Depression isn’t something to joke about. It is a serious mental health issue. You may not notice a friend or a family member who’s going through depression because they are trying their best to get by. Having depression doesn’t mean that a person is always slumped and sad. There are a lot of people suffering from this kind of condition who appear happy and successful! But that doesn’t invalidate what they’re feeling. If you found out that your friend is going through depression or if they trust you enough to let you know about their secret, what can you do to help them?
Here are some things you can do to help a depressed friend or family member.
1. Be there for them
Be a reliable part of their support system. If you can and if you have the time to respond to your friend’s texts or calls, do it! Most of the time, people with depression just really need someone they could talk to and someone who can understand them. There are a lot of things going through their heads. You can help out a friend by providing a channel for them to release their inner voice when their mind gets tangled up in depressing thoughts.
2. Acknowledge their feelings
Depression is real. The most effortless thing you can do to help a depressed person is by simply acknowledging how they feel. The last thing that a depressed person wants to hear is that they are “just sad” and they can get over it. People who are diagnosed with clinical depression even take the medications and therapy for it. Just because you also know how it feels to be sad or down, doesn’t mean that you fully understand what clinical depression is. There are sure warning signs that aren’t present in an ordinarily sad person. It takes a whole new level of understanding to be able to understand people with depression. They have all sorts of emotions pent up inside of them. The worst thing you can is to tell them to just “snap out of it”.
3. Learn more about depression
Kudos to you! Reading this article is one of the ways you can do to help understand what your friend is going through. We applaud you for your initiative. There are more other things you can learn about depression. For example, you can try to ask them what triggers their feels and what calms them down. As much as possible, take note of what helps them to calm down so that when something similar happens again you can help them control their emotions because you already know how to deal with it.
4. Help your friend respond to emergencies
You’ll never know when your friend will need your help. There are times when you cannot personally respond to their needs due to personal reasons. But you can still do something to help your friend. List out a couple of other sources of help for your friend. Add their contact numbers and put them on your friend’s speed dial. Just in case you’re not available during this time, your friend has the option to get help from someone else.
5. Take care of yourself
Professionals who treat people with depression take good care of themselves, too. The term for this is “self-care”. You should learn how to practice doing this to care for your own mental health. You’re a human being who’s also prone to absorbing your friend’s emotions. If you really want to help out your friend, you should be stable emotionally. It won’t help if you’re both finding it hard to deal with your emotions. One of you should be strong. If there are times when you feel like you are not going to be of help to your friend, or if you’re experiencing some troubles on your own, it’s okay to pass on helping. That’s why you have to help out your friend to build their support network! It’s important to know that before you take care of anyone else, you should first take care of yourself.
6. Remind your friend that they can cope with their depression.
People who are suffering from depression tend to feel like they are worthless. Their self-esteem is really low, and they’ve hit the absolute rock bottom. Your friend may not be even able to go back to the things they had always enjoyed doing. Their confidence is very low at this point. The best thing you can do is to help them feel like they are someone special once again, that they are still the same awesome friend you know despite their depression. You don’t have to do something grand to make them feel confident about themselves. You can send your friend a simple motivating message that could help them go through the rest of the day.
If it helps, you can also help your friend understand that they are not alone in this journey. Depression isn’t a permanent state that they will stay in forever. It’s important to remind them that once they’ve hit the lowest of lows, there’s nowhere to go but up.
7. Make them smile!
You know what makes your friend smile or laugh. If they love to hear corny jokes or stories, then share some that you know. Laughing will also help their system boost their serotonin levels. Serotonin is the hormone responsible for a person’s happiness. Some theories say that once a person is depressed, their serotonin levels go down. If your friend enjoys going out, shopping, or watching a movie, you can try to set a date with your friend. Also, this will help them feel like they’re not alone and take their mind off from what they are thinking.
8. Be a good listener
If you’re not the kind of person who’s good at giving advice or you just prefer not to give any advice, the good news is that you don’t have to do it. You don’t have to say a lot of words to your friend. One of the best things you can do to help is to listen to them. There is a lot of stuff going on inside their heads, and they would just want someone to talk to. You’ll be surprised at how helpful you can be to someone who’s going through depression by simply lending an ear. People are often scared to express what they feel because they are afraid of the feedback that they may get from being vocal about their feelings. You don’t even have to say one thing, and yet after they’re done talking, they would feel a lot better. Never underestimate the power of listening especially when it comes to helping your depressed friend.
Help In Any Way You Can
These are just some of the things you can do to help out your depressed friend and family member. You don’t have to go through the same thing for you to understand what they are going through. You also don’t have to be a professional to help them out on their troubles. All you have to do is to be the friend that they trust their feelings and emotions with. It’s important to remember that what they’re going through isn’t easy. Although what they’re going through is serious, you can be a part of the help that they could get. You should never underestimate the power that you could do as a friend.