The reality is that you’re already a great friend to anyone you want to help beat a mental illness like depression. However, doing something concrete isn’t the easiest of tasks. Not because it involves some otherworldly effort, but because most of us don’t know where to start. It can be hard to think of words to say, actions to make, or even an appropriate time to act.
In this article, we’ll provide tips that could make a difference when helping a friend beat depression. But before we get into it, it’s essential to understand that not everyone is the same, so they won’t act the way you might expect them to when you try to help. Therefore, remember that this isn’t an all-powerful guide about treating depression. This is only a bit of advice that could come in handy.
Learn What Your Friend Is Going Through
The best place to start helping people with depression is to inform yourself about it in the first place. This way, you’ll be able to provide them with actual help over time and make a difference for the better in their life.
But it’s sometimes hard to make a clear distinction between regular ups and downs in someone’s life. Therefore, you can easily confuse depression and momentary blues. Furthermore, people going through this might also feel ashamed to talk about it, making the whole thing even harder for friends and family to act.
Nevertheless, the symptoms of depression vary from one person to another. The thing is — everyone’s different. Still, there are some common signs that your friend or family member is going through depression. They include the following.
- Feeling sad and being down constantly;
- Not sleeping or sleeping all day;
- Not attending school, work, or other activities regularly;
- Skipping meetups with friends often and canceling minutes before;
- Diet problems — eating too much or too little all of a sudden;
- Alcohol and drug problems;
- Loss of interest in things they used to love.
Make Sure That You Are Open and Welcoming
Like we’ve said, it’s hard to come up with words to say when you’re in front of someone who’s depressed. The best thing to do is to simply ask them how it’s going. Nothing more. Allow them to express themselves if they feel like it.
Other conversation starters include the likes of “How can I help you?” or “I see that you’re not in the best place. Would you like to share something with me?”
If you find yourself in a position that requires you to ask something sensitive, it’s best to choose a suitable time for it. Namely, try to make your friend as comfortable as possible before you do so. The point is not to make them feel judged but supported and safe in your company.
Take Their Feelings Seriously
Mental health is no joke. We all know that. It’s essential to take the feelings of people around you seriously, regardless of whether they suffer from clinical depression or just momentary sadness.
Phrases like “Don’t worry about it!” “Cheer up!” and “Forget it!” should never come into play. They can’t do any of it. That’s why they have a serious problem. So, it’s key to acknowledge their feelings and try to help them overcome what they’re dealing with.
If you’re short of ideas about what to do for your friend, it’s maybe best to ask them what they want from you. This way, they’ll choose what suits them. You can hang out without any need to talk about something serious. Allow them to express themselves, and they’ll be on the right track to recovery.
Assist Them in Finding More External Support
Mental health problems are hard to overcome, no matter how strong someone might be. Hence, people often reach out to medical professionals for help. This is, of course, the best course of action one can take. And if your friend or relative decides to do that, we recommend that you assist them in finding the best possible assistance.
From going to a psychiatrist or going to a talk therapy group, it all helps. All these are the right paths to recovery. But what else can you do about it? Well, you should help them meet their dates, drive them to meetings and sessions, etc. Be their right-hand man, their go-to guy while they search for external support that suits them best.
Give Constant Support and Immediate Respond to Emergencies
Depression means bad days. Quite a few of them, actually. And when they come, it’s key that your friend has someone to encourage them. For example, if they decide not to visit their doctor for an appointment, make sure you persuade them to do so.
Nevertheless, if they’re not seeing a professional, they should be fully aware that they can count on you and the rest of their family. And in case you suspect they might be up to no good, hurting themselves or someone else, immediately call a mental health service. Dial three zeros for an emergency, but don’t spread the word around.
Acknowledge and Celebrate Improvements
During a rough patch, it can sometimes be hard to notice personal success and growth. That’s why it’s important to help your friend who’s struggling with depression acknowledge all the little victories on their path to recovery. Make sure to congratulate them every time you notice that they’ve surpassed a certain barricade in their life. No matter how big or small, every achievement counts when someone’s dealing with mental illness.
You can even celebrate and make the whole occasion fun. This way, you’ll bring back some additional joy into their life. However, don’t get overboard with it. For people who suffer from depression, it can be too much to be in circumstances and environments that don’t resemble the way they feel inside. For example, don’t throw a party. Instead, try to do some fun activities, something like going out to watch a movie, hiking, or playing catch.