How to get your friend out of depression
Find out more about cookies and your privacy in our policy. It can be hard to know exactly how to help and what to say to someone who is struggling. Not totally sure what depression is or what it means for your friend? Someone experiencing depression might feel ashamed, and worried about how their friends might react if they talk about it.SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: How to Help Someone Who's Lonely, Isolated, or Depressed
6 ways to help a friend with depression
Knowing what to say to someone who is depressed isn't always easy. While you may feel awkward and unsure at first, know that whatever you say doesn't have to be profound or poetic. It should simply be something that comes from a place of compassion and acceptance. Try not to be dissuaded by worry over saying the "wrong" thing.
Too many people with clinical depression feel alone—a state that only worsens their condition. Often the simplest way to initiate a conversation is to be direct—ask your friend if they are depressed. Don't accuse, threaten, blame, or make light of what your friend is feeling.
Let them know that you are there to talk about it. If your friend isn't ready to talk, continue to offer your support by spending time with them and try to talk regularly, either in person, on the phone, or by text. A hug or a gentle touch of the hand can even get this message across. Depression can feel as though no one understands what you are feeling or even cares enough to try to understand, which can be isolating and overwhelming.
When you reach out to a friend, letting them know that you are going to be there every step of the way can be very reassuring. You may not quite know what this will look like at first, but know that just reminding your friend that you are someone they can lean on can mean the world.
Your friend may be reluctant to accept your offer for fear of becoming a burden on you, so make it clear that you don't mind and want to help in the same way you know they would for you in a similar situation. It is also possible that depression may leave your friend so tired and down that they don't even know what kind of help to ask for. Be prepared with a few specific suggestions, which may include:. For example, instead of saying "Is there anything I can do for you?
Remember, too, that the help you think your friend may need may not match with what would actually be beneficial in their eyes. Suggest—and listen. If your friend has not yet seen a doctor, encourage them to seek help and reassure them that there is nothing wrong with asking for assistance.
Depression is a real—and treatable—illness. If your friend is already seeing a doctor, offer to help with picking up medications and being on time for appointments. Sometimes the most important thing you can do for a depressed friend is to just listen sympathetically while they talk about what is bothering them, allowing them to relieve the pressure of pent-up feelings. Make sure to listen without interrupting. Sometimes people who are depressed just need to talk without having the conversation taken over with well-meaning advice.
A common feeling among those who are depressed is that their lives don't matter and no one would even care if they were gone. Have you ever experienced clinically significant depression? If what you have been through was just a case of the blues , on the other hand, your friend may feel like you are trivializing their experience by comparing it with yours.
In this case, it would be best to simply admit that you don't understand exactly what they are going through, but you care about them and want to try. Often, the best words to say are, "I don't understand, but I really want to. Even though your friend's problems may seem minor to you, resist the urge to judge or come up with simple solutions. The biochemical imbalances associated with depression are what is driving how bad your friend feels about certain situations—not the situations themselves.
Instead, let them know that you are sorry that they are feeling so badly and adopt an attitude of acceptance that this is how their depression is affecting them. Just as an antibiotic for a strep throat takes a while to work, antidepressants can take some time to change chemicals in the brain sometimes upwards of eight weeks or longer. During this time, what your friend needs most is not references to fast, easy solutions, but an awareness that you will be by their side through their treatment.
Those who are coping with depression tend to feel weak or that there is something wrong with them. While depression is an illness, those who live with it may feel that it's a character flaw. In fact, it takes a great deal of strength to fight back, so they are probably much stronger than they think they are.
While you are reassuring your friend that they have a real illness, you can also reassure them that there is hope, because, like any other medical illness, depression is treatable. Through the use of medications and therapy, your friend has a very good chance of returning to feeling normal again. It's possible that you can say all the "right" things and your friend will still become upset with you. Each person is an individual with unique thoughts and feelings, and being angry and upset is the nature of depression.
Sometimes people will lash out at those trying to help them because they are hurting and don't know where to direct those bad feelings. Whoever is nearby becomes a convenient target. If this happens, try not to take it personally. Stay calm and continue to do what you can to love and support your friend in whatever way they will allow. Finally, the risk of suicide is high in those living with depression.
Make sure to be on the lookout for warning signs of suicide and know when to seek help. If you or someone you love are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at for support and assistance from a trained counselor.
If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Everything feels more challenging when you're dealing with depression. Get our free guide when you sign up for our newsletter. Loneliness as a specific risk factor for depressive symptoms: cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses.
Psychol Aging. The relationship between social support networks and depression in the National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. Seeking help for depression from family and friends: a qualitative analysis of perceived advantages and disadvantages. BMC Psychiatry. Trivedi MH. The link between depression and physical symptoms. Andrews G. Should depression be managed as a chronic disease? Describing depression: congruence between patient experiences and clinical assessments.
Br J Clin Psychol. Benazzi F. Various forms of depression. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. Pharmacological Treatments. Can J Psychiatry. The increasing burden of depression. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. Social support and protection from depression: Systematic review of current findings in Western countries. Br J Psychiatry. Remind Them You're There for Them Depression can feel as though no one understands what you are feeling or even cares enough to try to understand, which can be isolating and overwhelming.
Be prepared with a few specific suggestions, which may include: Could you use some help with housework or grocery shopping? Would you like some company for a while? Would you like me to drive you to your doctor appointments? Ask Them if They Want to Talk Sometimes the most important thing you can do for a depressed friend is to just listen sympathetically while they talk about what is bothering them, allowing them to relieve the pressure of pent-up feelings. Remind Them That They Matter A common feeling among those who are depressed is that their lives don't matter and no one would even care if they were gone.
Remind Them It's OK to Feel This Way Even though your friend's problems may seem minor to you, resist the urge to judge or come up with simple solutions. Assure Them They're Not Weak or Defective Those who are coping with depression tend to feel weak or that there is something wrong with them. Emphasize That There's Hope While you are reassuring your friend that they have a real illness, you can also reassure them that there is hope, because, like any other medical illness, depression is treatable.
When Good Intentions Go Wrong It's possible that you can say all the "right" things and your friend will still become upset with you. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Sign Up. What are your concerns? Article Sources. Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Related Articles.
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Helping Someone with Depression
When someone close to you is depressed, offering support can feel tricky if you don't know what the person needs. These tips provide a basis for how you can start to help. It causes a ripple effect that touches everyone surrounding the person. Family members and friends often feel helpless, not knowing how to reach out or what to do to help their suffering loved one.
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Your Mental Health Matters
Helping someone with depression can be a challenge. If someone in your life has depression, you may feel helpless and wonder what to do. Learn how to offer support and understanding and how to help your loved one get the resources to cope with depression. Here's what you can do. For many people with depression, symptoms usually are severe enough to cause noticeable problems in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities or relationships with others. Other people may feel generally miserable or unhappy without knowing why. Children and teens may show depression by being irritable or cranky rather than sad. People with depression may not recognize or acknowledge that they're depressed. They may not be aware of signs and symptoms of depression, so they may think their feelings are normal. All too often, people feel ashamed about their depression and mistakenly believe they should be able to overcome it with willpower alone.
8 Ways to Help a Friend or Family Member With Depression
According to the most recent estimates from the National Institute of Mental Health, just over 7 percent of all U. Worldwide, over million adults and children live with depression. But not everyone experiences depression in the same way, and symptoms can vary. You can start the conversation by sharing your concerns and asking a specific question. Keep in mind that your friend may want to talk about what they feel, but they might not want advice.
Years ago, I had a friend who was going through a rough patch. I wanted to respect the boundaries she was putting up so I decided to give her some space. Taking a little time for self-care can actually be therapeutic.
9 Ways to Help a Friend or Family Member With Depression
All of a sudden your best friend stops calling. She no longer wants to join you for yoga on Saturday mornings. The last time you saw her she looked fragile and sad, like someone else was living in her body. She has been struggling with depression for a few months now.
How to Help a Depressed Friend