8 Ways to Help a Depressed Friend
Depression is a disease. Mental health professionals, such as the ones from Psychologists Southern Sydney,would agree thatsuch mental illnesses are not entirely different from physical ones. Still, a lot of people have trouble accepting them as medically legitimate conditions because they cannot be seen as clearly as a broken bone on an x-ray.
Acknowledging the existence of depression is the first step to helping people who may be suffering from it.
From there, you can try any of the following ways to help a depressed friend:
- Educate yourself
It’s not enough to acknowledge that depression is a mental illness. If you truly want to reach out to a friend who’s depressed, you have to research on relevant topics like:
- The implications of being depressed
- The causes and effects of depression
- How depression can be disguised
By reading up on such topics, you’d have a better understanding of what your friend is going through, which should consequently make you more emphatic and patient towards him.
- Take the first step
People who have depression are used to keeping their problemsto themselves because they don’t want to be a burden for other people. Because of this, you should be willing to be the first one to reach out. Even a simple “how are you doing?” could establish more open communication lines, which could make it easier for your friend to get the help that he needs.
- Listen to him
If a friend is opening up to you about being depressed, just listen. Don’t feel like you need to talk whenever there are moments of silence. The fact that you’re listening to and attempting to understand what he’s going through already means a lot to him.
Additionally, while you’re listening to a friend with depression, try to withhold judgment. Sometimes, your biased views and feelings on a subject can invalidate your friend’s, further reinforcing the idea in his head that there’s something fundamentally wrong with him.
- Be there for him
If there are no more words to be said by either you or your depressed friend, sometimes just being there for him is enough. Keep in mind that you don’t always have to physically be there for your friend to make him feel like you care.
For instance, you could send him a message reminding him that you’re just a phone call away whenever he wants to take a load off of his chest. If the situation permits, you could even tag him on a funny post on Facebook. The important thing is that he knows that he’s always on your mind.
- Never give unsolicited advice
“Exercise more. Try to go out this Saturday and socialize. Don’t think about your problems too much.” These are perhaps the least desirable pieces of advice that someone with depression can hear from a friend.
Now, don’t misunderstand. Surely, you mean well; you probably got those tips from a reliable source and are anxious to see whether they’d help your friend or not. However, what you may not realize is that your friend has also heard about those tips – and have tried them repeatedly, but to no avail. It’s also possible that they want to try those tips out but still lack the strength to do so.
For these reasons, it’s imperative that you only give advice to your friend if he specifically asks you to, especially if it’s about his condition. If you’re not sure what to say, the safest thing to do is to listen.
- Let them know about other forms of help
No matter how much you give to your friend with depression, the fact is that you don’t have all the solutions. Remember this so that you can let your friend know about other forms of help, such as:
- Support groups
- Professional counseling
- Medicine (if necessary)
- Be ready to respond to emergencies
While not all depressed people are suicidal, it’s best to prepare yourself for emergencies involving your friend attempting to harm himself. As with all emergencies, it’s important to stay calm and focused should such a situation arise.
- Care for yourself
Don’t forget to take good care of yourself while you’re helping a friend cope with depression. It’s a highly taxing thing to do, so you need to regularly check with yourself to ensure that you aren’t exhausting your mental and emotional capacities too much. Remember that you can’t be there for your friend if you can’t look out for yourself first.
Depression is great at hiding behind laughter and sulking underneath one’s constant smiles. Someone who has depression is often skilled at not letting people notice it, which is why you should pay close attention to a friend who was diagnosed with this mental illness. You can be of help to him by listening to his concerns, validating his feelings, and letting him know that other forms of help are available.