April 9, 2022
YOU CAN HELP A FRIEND SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION
If you’ve noticed that someone close to you is suffering from depression - see our recent blogpost “6 Ways To Identify Depression In Others” for tips on how to spot this - there are many ways you can help them without professional psychiatric training or experience. Simply being there for them may feel easy and very natural for you, while making a giant difference for them. Here are some ways you can help a depressed friend:
There are so many resources available online for learning more about depression from a clinical standpoint as well as management and mitigation strategies that, with a little research, you can learn enough to provide helpful base-level support for someone who is suffering. It’s time and effort well invested developing knowledge that you will likely find useful throughout your life.
Become a good listener
It’s common for a depressed person to withdraw into themselves and keep quiet because they think nobody really cares about them, because they feel bad about “complaining”, or because they are concerned admitting an issue makes them seem weak. For many, a helpful path to processing depression is trying to organize thoughts into words, and for this they need a good listener. Offer a sympathetic ear that does not downplay their condition and takes them seriously. These conversations don’t necessarily need to be heavy sessions - you can plan social but private activities together like a nature hike. Remember, it’s not your task to try and figure out simple solutions for them, but simply to offer support by being there for them and reminding them of their strengths.
Encourage them to get help
Lack of motivation to find resources is a big reason why many depressed people don’t connect with the professional help that they need. In some cases, your suggestions may be enough to motivate them into action, but others will benefit from more proactive assistance. This can include helping them connect to resources and even offering to accompany them to appointments. Once you’ve got the ball rolling, following through with care can seem much less difficult.
Be patient and keep up with it
Managing depression is never a quick fix, it’s a journey of self-understanding. These developments don’t happen overnight and depression does not get “fixed” through a couple of chats. Motivation can be difficult for a depressed person to keep up over the long term. Follow up with your friend and continue the conversation to make sure they are on an upward path and getting the help they need.