Important Tips For How To Help A Depressed Friend In Need
Updated August 27, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Depression is something that impacts the lives of millions of people, and you likely know many individuals who deal with depression each day. If you have a friend who is suffering from depression, then you might be concerned and wish to help them out. There are ways that you can be there for your friend, but there are also certain things that you should avoid doing. Read on to explore essential tips for how to help a depressed friend in need. This information should help you to be a source of support for your depressed friend.
Educate Yourself About Depression
If you want to be a good friend and support someone who is dealing with depression, then it makes sense to educate yourself about depression. It is said that at least 322 million people are living with depression worldwide. This is a more common problem than some people realize, and there are also several types of depression. Not all people who deal with depression will have similar experiences, and some people have a tougher time coping with what is going on than others. You can’t expect your friend’s symptoms to line up perfectly with experiences that someone else has had.
You might feel tempted to tell them that you understand what they’re going through or to try to compare what they’re feeling to something else that you’ve heard about. Comparing their experiences to something you’ve gone through is usually not helpful. It’s best to just try to learn about depression and to be there as a source of support. You can’t fix your friend’s issues, but you can be someone who shows them love and support. This support can make a difference, and the more you know about depression, the easier it will be to navigate these conversations.
Take The Time To Listen To Your Friend
Sometimes you just want to have someone to listen to when you’re feeling down. Depression is a lot more serious than just feeling a bit melancholy for most people, but it’s still true that having someone to talk to can help a lot. If you can be a person that your depressed friend can count on when they need to talk, then that can make a world of difference. People with depression can feel isolated when they’re in the midst of a depressive episode. If you’re able to make them your friend comfortable and he/she has an easy time opening up to you, then that could be good.
Try to be a person who listens without judgment and knows the power of validating someone’s feelings. This isn’t about coming up with solutions or getting your friend to change how they think about things. It’s just about being present and showing empathy for someone that you care about. This is going to be good whether your friend is dealing with minor depression issues, and it can also help people with clinical depression. Just be a good friend and make yourself available when your depressed friends reach out.
Support The Idea Of Going To Therapy
It can also be beneficial for your friend to get professional help. The best thing that you can do is to support the idea that it’s good for them to talk to someone who knows about depression. You shouldn’t try to force your depressed friend to go to therapy or to go see a doctor, though. They need to make that decision on their own, and you should just provide gentle support while letting them know that you care about their well-being. Let them know that you think therapy sounds like a good idea and tell them that you just want to make sure that they have all the support that they need.
If your friend is already going to therapy, then try to be supportive of that and urge them to continue going. Sometimes depressed people will withdraw and want to cancel appointments during depressive episodes. It’s possible that you could encourage them to keep the appointment. Little things like this can make a difference when someone you care about trusts you. Your opinion and support could help a depressed friend to make positive decisions. Remember that therapy is one of the most effective treatments for depression and that dealing with depression can be more comfortable with the help of a skilled therapist.
Learning about therapy might help you to bring up good points to your friend as well. For example, there are many therapy options available that can make things easier. Some people really thrive when going to see a therapist in-person at a traditional office. Others might like the convenience of online therapy and will love being able to get help without having to leave home. Knowing that there are options that could help your friend to find a therapy path that will work best for them.
Your friend might also find taking medication to be useful for treating depression symptoms. Just don’t push your friend to do anything that they’re uncomfortable with. Some people thrive because of taking antidepressant medications, but some shy away from prescription medications due to concerns about side effects. Your depressed friend should speak with a doctor to go over options, and you should be supportive of whatever treatment paths your friend winds up going with.
Offer Your Help With Daily Problems
Some people have problems when it comes to dealing with everyday life issues while they’re depressed. Even something healthy, like doing the laundry or going grocery shopping, can feel like a daunting task when you’re in the middle of a severe bout of depression. People need to have support when they’re struggling like this, and you can be there for your friend during this time. It might be prudent to offer your help so that your friend can at least feel secure knowing that things are getting dealt with.
Remember that not every depressed person is going to need or want help from others. Don’t try to push the issue if your friend declines your offer to provide assistance. Your heart might be in the right place, but some people just don’t like feeling like they need others to do certain things. Other depressed individuals might welcome the assistance. Just be there for your friend and let them know that you can help out if they feel like they need it. A small action such as going grocery shopping might not seem like much to you, but it could mean the world to your friend.
Have Fun Together
You don’t have to make getting together with your friend all about depression. In fact, sometimes it’s going to be nice to just enjoy life and do things that you both enjoy together. Your friend needs to have reasons to smile, and you might be able to provide that on occasion. Playing a game together or watching some movies might make for a great evening. Sometimes you can help by just being the normal friend that you are and providing them with a respite from what they’re going through.
Not all people are going to be able to feel up to having fun like normal when they’re depressed, though. Regardless, it’s still good to invite your friend to do things and to try to hang out when possible. If your friend doesn’t want to do anything because of how they’re feeling, then be understanding while letting them know that you’re there for them. This is going to be a tough thing to deal with sometimes when you just want to help your friend, but you just have to be patient. There’s a good chance that your friend will reach out to you if you keep checking on them, and you never give up on them.
Try Not To Take Offense
Sadly, there are also going to be times when your friend will lash out at you or others that they love. Depression can take on many forms, and some of those forms involve angry emotions. People going through bouts of depression might sometimes experience anger and become irritable. This could even involve your friend saying some hurtful things to you, and this can be tough to deal with. You love your friend, and you don’t want disorder depression issues to tear you apart.
These incidents of lashing out at others don’t necessarily indicate their true feelings toward you. People can become overwhelmed with emotion, and sometimes they hurt the people that are closest to them. You should do your best not to take these words to heart, and you should continue to be there for your friend even when it’s tough. It might sometimes be necessary to take a step back and give your friend some space, too.
Remember to take care of yourself as well. It’s good to look out for others, and it means a lot to have a supportive friend when you’re going through depression issues. However, it’s also important to understand that having people in your life who are going through clinical depression issues can be exhausting. Sometimes you might need to take some time out to handle your own issues. Recognize the importance of self-care, and don’t try to overextend yourself.
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