Depression is a serious condition that impacts millions of individuals. If you have a friend who is dealing with depression, you may not know the best way to help them. We have six ways you can be a better friend when they need it most.
Depression is a serious mental illness that involves intense, persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities as well as people. Depression can be caused by many different things (including life events and genetics) and those who have this illness may experience an episode of depression that lasts for a certain period of time or multiple episodes throughout their life. Working with a therapist and taking medication are common ways to treat depression, as well as certain alternative therapies and naturopathic remedies.
How You Can Help
Understanding depression is a serious illness is the first step to being there for someone in your life who is trying to manage their depression. Here are six other ways to help a friend with depression:
1. Keep the lines of communication open.
Making yourself available as someone they can talk openly with about their illness can be a big help. Just remember, if you make the commitment to be available, make sure you can honor it and follow up with them from time to time.
2. Really listen.
Building on the previous point, make sure when you're listening to your friend that you're actively engaged in the conversation. Go somewhere private or public -- whichever they prefer -- turn off your devices and just be present.
3. Help them explore their interests.
Whether it's joining a sports team, taking a cooking class or working on a writing project, help them identify their passions and provide some much needed encouragement. Tag along if you can so they know they have your support.
4. Learn more about depression.
Becoming educated on depression and the symptoms it causes (which may include changes in appetite, insomnia and physical pain) can help you better communicate with them and provide the best assistance you can. It may not be easy to understand at times, but being informed can help you find ways to relate.
5. Respect their needs.
Knowing and honoring your friend's boundaries is crucial as a member of their support system. You should be an encouraging presence but not a pressuring one. Know when to back off if they tell you they need it and don't be offended.
6. Encourage them to get the help they need.
If you aren't a medical professional, you need to recognize your own limits and know the warning signs of a serious depressive behavior. Knowing when to refer them to a professional can make all the difference in their recovery and can help you keep your relationship in its proper place.
Depression can be managed. Follow these tips to help someone you know dealing with depression.