Helping A Friend With Depression

According to the World Health Organisation, more than 350 million people all over the world are suffering from depression. It’s a disorder that holds no prejudice – people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds are affected by it. Unfortunately, with those kinds of statistics, the odds are very good that someone in your life is plagued by this mental illness. So what can you do to help a loved one or a friend with depression?

Be Aware

Knowing what to look for is half the battle. Sometimes, people can go years with a mood disorder impeding their daily lives simply because it didn’t occur to them that something was seriously wrong – or worse,  believing it would be silly or pointless to see a professional about ‘a little sadness.’

If you think your friend is depressed, be on the lookout for behaviours that indicate:
Depressed Friend

  • A lack of interest in the things that usually engage and excite them
  • A feeling of hopelessness or futility
  • Unplanned weight loss or gain, a severe change in diet or appetite
  • Social withdrawal where they once had active friendships and relationships
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Be Honest

Discussing depression with someone can certainly appear to be an intimidating task. Perhaps you don’t even know how to breach the subject. Truly, the best you can do is be honest.

First, express your concern for their well-being; let them know that their sudden change in behaviour or outlook has you concerned, and that you would like to help.  Remind them that depression is a medical condition and reaffirm that you take it seriously as such. Finally, absolutely encourage a visit to a clinical professional.

Depression has its standard symptoms, but our minds are incredibly complex and visiting a therapist, psychologist or doctor will identify best treatments and further resources for your loved one.

Be Supportive

Having a friend with depression doesn’t mean you must become the expert. Depression can’t be solved with one good talk or a big bear hug, and it’s not your responsibility to bear the weight of your friend’s difficulties. You can, however, be a major part of your loved one’s rehabilitation.

The best way of helping a friend with depression is to ask! Depression is so much less about offering your personal advice as it is about providing a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Perhaps help with outlining questions for the visit with the doctor, offer to attend the appointment with them, or help out with daily errands and chores. Always work within your means; exhausting yourself won’t help at all.

Though it’s hard, starting the discussion is one of the most effective ways you can help if you suspect a friend or loved one is depressed. The conversation may be uncomfortable to initiate, but it could literally mean the difference between relief and misery – or worse, life and death. Take the first step and reach out! You and your friend will be glad you did.

If you have more questions about how you can helping a friend with depression why not contact us or read more on our page about depression.  We offer effective private Psychological Therapies for depression as well as other mood problems.