How To Deal: When Your Friend has Depression

How to help your friend through this difficult time.

dealing_with_depression

Depression is a very difficult, misunderstood disorder.  It’s becoming increasingly common, but that doesn’t make it any easier for those who haven’t experienced it to understand what the person is going through.

Chances are, at some point in your life, you will either experience depression or know someone who is dealing with it.   Since it is such a touchy subject, it’s important for you to be prepared when you talk to your friend and try to help them. Victims of depression need steady, supportive friends that will be there for them when they are depressed. If you know someone who is depressed and are unsure how to relate to them or what to say to them, don’t worry!  This is the article for you.

NOTE: If you are depressed, you should talk to a doctor immediately.  If someone you know is depressed, you should strongly encourage them to see a doctor.

Things Not To Say

1) “I’ve been depressed before too, you’ll get over it”  Not only is this insensitive, it’s also incorrect.  Feeling sad or blue for a day or two isn’t the same as having the mental illness known as depression.  The word “depressed” is thrown around too liberally in the english language and has lost the true meaning.

2) “Your life isn’t even that bad, think of all the people who have it so much worse than you”  This implies that the depression your friend is experiencing is some sort of pity party.  Remember, people do not get depressed because they got fired, or are going through a break up.  Although those things can trigger depression, there is a deeper issue that is causing their depression.

3) “Suck it up and stop feeling sorry for yourself”  Similar to the above point, depression is not a choice and it is not as simple as “sucking it up”.

4) “Just go for a run or something”  While the endorphins produced by exercising are a great way to prevent and treat depression, it is not going to be the entire cure.

5) “The world doesn’t revolve around you” The victim of depression knows that they aren’t the centre of the universe, but that doesn’t help their depression at all.

holding hands

Things To Say

1) “I love you” Make sure your friend knows that you are there for them and that you love them.  People with depression feel worthless, and knowing that someone loves them can make a world of difference.

2) “I’m not going to leave or abandon you”  Often people with depression will feel like they are a burden on those around them.  It is nice to remind them that you are not going anywhere.

3) “I can’t understand what you are feeling, but I can offer you my compassion”  Simply acknowledging that you actually have no idea what they are going through, but are willing to try to understand, is enough to make them realize that you really care about them.

4) “I believe in you, you’re awesome!” Positive reinforcement that you think they are great and you believe that they can overcome this.

5) “What can I do to help you?”  Let the person know that you are willing to do whatever it takes to help them get out of this situation.

Hyperbole & a Half does an amazing cartoon about depression that will help you understand what victims of depression are experiencing.  Part 1 & part 2.

Let us know:

Have you ever been depressed? Do you know someone who is? How do you address the issue?

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