Do you know a friend who is suffering from depression? If so, what can you do to help them? You are not alone in your feelings.
According to the latest current estimates from the National Institute of Mental Health, little more than 7% of all people in the United States had an episode of severe depression during the calendar year 2017.
Over 300 million people and children across the world suffer from depression.
However, not everyone experiences depression in the same way, and the symptoms may differ from person to person.
Someone who is depressed may suffer from the following symptoms:
- seem depressed or tearful.
- project a gloomier or despairing outlook on the future than is typical.
- express feelings of shame, emptiness, or worthlessness.
- They seem to be less interested in spending time together or communicating as often as they might otherwise be.
They are quickly agitated or irritated under unexpected circumstances.
- I seem to have less energy, move more slowly, or appear to be generally listless.
- They exhibit less care for their looks than they normally do, or ignore basic hygiene practices such as bathing and cleaning their teeth.
- I have difficulty sleeping or sleeping much more than normal.
They are less concerned with their regular activities and interests.
- I seem to be forgetful or to be having difficulty focusing or making decisions.
- Eat more or less than you normally would.
- broach the subject of death or suicide.
Ten things you can do to assist, as well as a few things you should avoid, will be discussed in this section.
- Pay attention to what they have to say.
Make your buddy aware that you are available to them. It is possible to begin the discussion by expressing your worries and asking a particular inquiry about them. In this case, you could remark, "It seems like you've been having a difficult time recently. "Can you tell me what's on your mind?"
Please keep in mind that your buddy may just want to speak about their feelings, and they may not be interested in hearing your suggestions.
Active listening methods may help you engage with your buddy more effectively:
- Instead of assuming you know what they're talking about, ask questions to find out more about their background.
- Acknowledge and validate their emotions. "That seems to be very tough," you may think. "I'm sad to hear that," says the author.
- Use your body language to demonstrate empathy and interest.
It's possible that your buddy may not feel like chatting the first time you ask, so it's important to keep showing them how much you care.
Continue to ask open-ended inquiries (without being aggressive) and voice your dissatisfaction. When feasible, try to conduct face-to-face discussions whenever possible. If you and your partner reside in separate cities, consider video chatting.
2. Assist them in locating resources.
The person you're talking to may not be aware that they're suffering from depression, or they could be uncertain of how to get help.
Even if they are aware that counseling may be beneficial, finding a therapist and scheduling an appointment may be a difficult task.
If your buddy seems to be interested in therapy, offer to assist them in researching possible therapists. You may assist your buddy in creating a list of questions to ask prospective therapists as well as items to discuss during their first session.
If they're having trouble getting to that initial visit, encouraging them and supporting them may be very beneficial.
3. Encourage them to continue with their treatment.
If your buddy is having a terrible day, he or she may not feel like leaving the house. Depression may sap one's vitality and enhance one's urge to withdraw from others.
Encourage them to keep their treatment appointment if they say something like, "I believe I'm going to cancel my therapy session," for example.
"Last week, you said that your session was very fruitful and that you felt much better afterward." "What if today's session is also beneficial?"
The same is true for prescription medications. If your buddy wishes to discontinue taking medication due to unpleasant side effects, be sympathetic, but urge them to consult with their psychiatrist about switching to a different antidepressant or discontinuing medication altogether.
Antidepressants should not be stopped abruptly without the guidance of a healthcare professional. This may have severe effects.
4. Look for your well-being.
When you care about someone who is suffering from depression, it's tempting to quit everything to be by their side and support them. Even while it is understandable that you would want to assist a buddy, it is equally essential to prioritize your own needs.
If you devote all of your time and energy to helping your buddy, you will have little time and energy left for yourself. Furthermore, if you're exhausted or irritated, you won't be of much assistance to your buddy in need.
Draw a line between what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
Setting limits may be beneficial. For example, you could tell your friend that you'll be ready to talk when you get home from work, but not before.
If you're worried about them believing they won't be able to contact you, volunteer to assist them in developing a contingency plan if they need your assistance during your workday. In the event of a crisis, this may include locating a hotline they can contact or devising a code word that they may text you if they need assistance.
Instead of attempting to assist daily, you might volunteer to stop by every other day or to deliver dinner twice a week instead. Involving additional friends may aid in the development of a larger support network.
Self-care should be practiced.
Spending a significant amount of time with a loved one who is depressed may be emotionally draining. Know your boundaries when it comes to unpleasant emotions, and schedule time for rest and recuperation.
To inform a buddy that you will not be accessible for some time, you could say something like, "I won't be available until X time." "Do you mind if I check in with you then?"
5. Conduct your research on depression.
If you had to teach every individual in your life about a mental or physical health problem you're dealing with, you'd be exhausted from having to repeat yourself over and again. It sounds tiring, doesn't it?
It's OK to question your buddy about their particular symptoms or how they're feeling, but refrain from asking them to describe depression in broad terms to you.
You may learn more about the symptoms, causes, diagnostic criteria, and therapies by doing your research.
However, although each person's experience of sadness is unique, being acquainted with the basic signs and vocabulary of depression may enable you to have more in-depth discussions with your buddy.
6. Offer to provide a hand with routine chores.
When you are suffering from depression, even the most mundane activities may seem overwhelming. Things like washing, food shopping, and bill paying may begin to build up, and it can be difficult to know where to begin with them.
Your buddy may be grateful for your offer of assistance, but they may not be able to express themselves properly about what they need assistance with.
Rather than asking something like, "Please let me know if there is anything I can do," try saying something like, "What do you most need assistance with today?"
When you notice their refrigerator is empty, ask if you can "take you food shopping or pick up what you need from the store if you make a list." Let's go buy some groceries and make supper together," for example.
If your buddy is falling behind on dishes, housework, or other home tasks, offer to come over, turn on some music, and work on a particular job together to make up for a lost time. Simply having someone to work with may make the task feel less overwhelming.
7. Extend invites that have not been accepted.
People suffering from depression may find it difficult to communicate with their friends or to make or maintain appointments. However, canceling plans may lead to feelings of guilt.
Because of a history of canceled arrangements, others may be less likely to invite you to events, which may contribute to feelings of loneliness. Depression may be exacerbated by these emotions.
Continue to offer invites to events to your buddy, even if you know they are unlikely to accept them. This will help to reassure them. Tell them you realize that they may be unable to maintain plans when they are going through a difficult time and that there is no obligation to hang out until they are ready.
Simply tell them that you are delighted to see them anytime they want to come to visit you.
8. Be patient with yourself.
When depression is treated, it is generally alleviated, but it may be a long and laborious process involving a lot of trial and error. They may need to try many different counseling methods or medicines before they discover one that relieves their symptoms completely.
Successful therapy does not necessarily imply that depression has been eliminated. Your buddy may continue to have symptoms from time to time.
In the meanwhile, they'll most likely have some good days and some terrible days, depending on how things go. Avoid assuming that a good day implies your buddy is "cured," and refrain from becoming upset if a series of poor days makes it seem as if your friend will never get better.
Depression does not have a well-defined healing period. The expectation that your buddy will be back to his old self after a few weeks of treatment will not benefit either of you.
9. Keep in contact with one another.
Allowing your buddy to know that you are still concerned about them while they continue to struggle with depression may be beneficial.
Even if you aren't able to spend a lot of time with them daily, send them a text, call them, or pay them a short visit to let them know you care. Even sending a short text message to say "I've been thinking about you and I care about you" may be very helpful in this situation.
People suffering from depression may become more distant and reluctant to reach out, and you may find yourself having to put in more effort to keep the relationship going. However, maintaining a cheerful and supporting presence in your friend's life may make all the difference to them, even if they are unable to communicate this to you at the time.
10. Recognize the many forms that depression may take.
Depression is often accompanied by feelings of sorrow or a depressed mood, but it sometimes manifests itself in other, less well-known ways.
For example, many individuals are unaware that depression may include the following symptoms:
- Feelings of rage and irritation
- dizziness, disorientation, memory difficulties, or trouble paying attention.
- extreme tiredness or sleep disturbances.
Physical symptoms include stomach discomfort, frequent headaches, or back and other muscular pain. These are examples of physical symptoms.
Your buddy may seem to be in a terrible mood all of the time, or he or she may be tired most of the time. Attempt to remember that what they're experiencing is still considered to be part of depression, even if it doesn't fall into the conventional definitions of the illness.
Even if you have no idea how to make someone feel better, just expressing "I'm sorry you're feeling this way" can do the trick. "I'm here to assist you if there's anything I can do" may be of assistance.