How to Help a Friend With Depression?


Learn More About Depression

An informed individual will have a better chance of assisting people with depression. Depression is a complex mood disorder and it is necessary to perform adequate researches. You may access a number of resources to gain a better insight on this psychological condition. The easiest way is to type “what is depression” on any major search engine. You can also find books or magazine in the library, if you still have some questions, you can see a psychiatrist. In the end, you should have a good idea of what is affecting your friend. People with depression need some compassion; avoid using inappropriate remarks as it may worsen the condition.

Become a Good Listener

Simply by talking, we can unload a significant amount of emotional burden. Not surprisingly, people with depression need someone who can listen to their problems. Initially, they are often very apprehensive about talking to someone except their doctors. After all, they’ve been judged by people who tend to talk too much and fail to become good listeners. Close friends and family members are often very effective listeners. People with depression can easily be stigmatized by their condition and consequently they try to hide their real condition. You shouldn’t be surprised if a depressed friend won’t open up to you. However, when he or she does, you should let the words flow. Don’t be judgmental and never interrupt! Listening is not an easy skill, as you’ll have an almost irresistible urge to voice your opinion.

Perform Outdoor Activities

Outdoor activities are among the most effective ways to lessen depression symptoms. Because the person is your friend, it is likely that you know his preferred outdoor activities. You should try to encourage him to go outside to join you in an activity that he likes most. Any exciting and productive activity can switch most, if not all negative thoughts to more positive ones. You should expect initial resistance, you definitely need to be persistent, but never get pushy.

Seek Professional Help

If your friend shows likely signs of depression, such as the feeling of worthlessness, loss interest in daily activities and uncontrollable crying, you should find him a doctor, schedule an appointment and accompany him in the first visit. If he refuses, don’t push it and let several days go by before making another suggestion. You should be able to identify moments when he seems to have better moods; it could be the right time to ask him to see the doctor. Over time, your friend begins to cooperate and see the doctor. Some people with severe depression may have suicidal thoughts. If it happens to your friend, you should determine about the likelihood of suicide attempts. It is very likely that he strongly resist the idea of seeing a doctor, so during an emergency, you may need to call 911. Clearly describe the situation and a team will be dispatched. In the meantime, you and other friends may need to physically restrain him and try to compassionately calm him.

Act Naturally

In the presence of your depressed friend, you should act normally. Just act the way when things were better. A depressed person doesn’t need people who act like a doctor. They hate it when people start to ask about their past and try to analyze their behaviors. Don’t act like phonies, because you won’t achieve anything. When people do it, perhaps they try to stroke their own egos and unfortunately they do it at the expense of the depressed person. Such nonsense can even fuel further depression. Conversely, complete sincerity and honesty are extremely helpful when assisting a depressed individual.

Be Patient

People with depression symptoms can be very unpredictable. So much that you can be frustrated or even angry with them. Once again, depression can be very complicated. If someone can suffer physically from a broken bone, it is also possible to suffer mentally from broken emotions and thoughts. A depressed individual doesn’t behave like himself. Don’t be offended if he seems to resist all your attempts to help him. Always give him some space, observe him and be there when he is ready to receive help.

Don’t Forget About Your Own Well-Being

Caregivers shouldn’t forget about themselves. You shouldn’t sacrifice your own physical and mental condition when helping people with depression. Every person needs some time to vent his emotion or to relax. If you are angry and upset, find ways to release them healthily. If you are physically and emotionally tired, look for ways to recharge yourself. As a caregiver, you also need someone to talk to and perhaps you may join a specialized support group, so you can meet other caregivers. There are cases when caregivers become depressed, if it happens there is no shame in seeing the psychiatrist yourself.

In essence, helping someone who suffers from depression is definitely not easy. However, in many cases, a solid support system consisted of family members and close friends can help depressed people through the difficult time, which can considerably shorten the recovery process. The above steps can help a friend with depression and eventually, you will realize just how valuable your help and compassion have been.

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Susan Knowlton

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Susan Knowlton