Do you know someone who is depressed? Depression is a serious problem in today’s society. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender.
In fact, depression affects 1 in 6 in any given week in England alone.
If you have a friend or family member that suffers from depression, it can be difficult to know how to help them get better.
To help your friend or family member to feel better as quickly as possible, this guide will show you exactly how to do just that!
You’ll find out everything from what to say to someone who is depressed to what you can’t say to avoid hurting their feelings.
This guide will give you all the information necessary to provide the best support and to help your loved one recover from depression as quickly as possible!
Notice the Signs
Depression can be difficult to diagnose because it manifests itself in so many different ways. Sometimes feeling a bit blue may just be a “normal” extension to a hectic schedule.
However, there are early signs that you can recognize. Signs to watch for include a change in sleeping habits, weight loss or gain, changes to appetite, and limited energy levels. Here are some more signs to watch for.
Although symptoms of depression vary depending on the individual and their circumstance.
People who are depressed may experience feelings of sadness, guilt or worthlessness, and impaired ability to concentrate or think clearly.
They experience a wide range of emotions, but self-blame and sadness may be the most dominant.
It’s like the darkness and depression clouds cover the sun, pull away from what brings them joy, and process outside stimuli in negative ways.
Sometimes people are reluctant to talk openly about their emotions for fear that others will not understand how they feel or because they don’t want others to worry.
It’s important for someone who feels this way to know they can speak up without shame and you won’t judge them for it.
Signs of depression can include physical symptoms. The presence of sleep difficulties or significant weight loss from dieting or decreased appetite might be the signs of suffering from anxiety-motivated depression.
For instance, having recurring imperfect sleep quality and insufficient nightly hours of sleep leading to daytime dysfunction or impaired performance at work or school.
It’s important to reach out for help or to check on someone you know going through this problem as it is a complicated issue.
Pessimistic Way of Thinking
Depression often causes an unrealistic, pessimistic way of thinking.
Words like “I never do anything right” can become a habitual mindset for someone who is feeling low.
When we’re not feeling well, we often find it hard to enjoy what we’re doing.
And if we think everything is going wrong, our brain can become so focused on those thoughts that, as time passes, they will turn into beliefs that become stressful to us and everyone around us.
Depression also hinders one’s ability to experience pleasure from something as un-stressful as watching TV!
Unfortunately, these negative feelings intensify over time until they eventually take over because each newly added pessimistic thought reinforces previous ones in a negative cycle.
If you can, ask them to share their thoughts about these experiences.
Oftentimes, once the burdens are shared with another person, it takes away some of that weight.
What You Can Say to Show Your Support
Let’s say you want to help a friend with depression. There are a lot of things you can do to show your support, but knowing the right thing to say is important.
One of the ways to ask how they’re doing is “I care about you and I’m here if you ever need anything!”
You can also give them lots of hugs, thank them for talking to you, or just keep them company when they need it most.
Let Them Know That You Care
The most important thing you can do to help a friend with depression is to let them know that you care about them.
To reach out and show your support, ask if they want to talk more, thank them for talking to you, or just spend time with them when they need it the most.
You can say, “I want to let you know that you’re not alone in this. I’m here for you and I care about you, whenever you’re ready to talk about it.”
Be There for Them
It’s really tough for someone who is depressed. They often think that they can’t do anything about it, so it’s important to be there for them and make sure they know that they aren’t by themselves.
Helping them realize that other people will listen to what they have to say can be really helpful.
You can say, “I’m sorry this is happening to you. I want you to know that I’m here for you, whenever you need me.”
Offer Some Help
You can’t fix this problem for them, but you can be there to offer some help. You can provide a listening ear, or a hug when they need it.
You can also help them find resources and professionals that may be able to better help them. But you also need to be patient and kind to them.
It’s not an easy thing to deal with, and you can’t expect them to just bounce back from this quickly.
Be patient, loving, and kind throughout the process, by saying, “Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. If you need someone to talk to, I’ll listen. If you want to find a Doctor, I’ll help you. I’m just one call away.”
Ask Them Nicely to Consider Talking to A Doctor
Ask them nicely to consider talking to a doctor because doctors are professionals. They know what the best treatment is.
They are trained to know how to take care of their patients. They can give your friend the best chance for a good outcome. If it’s early enough, they can even get rid of their symptoms altogether.
The individual may not be willing to listen at first. They might feel like they know what’s best and be very defensive about it.
This is why you need to make them comfortable enough with you so that they will at least consider talking to a doctor.
You can say, “You’re a good person and I care about you. I’m really sorry that you’re going through this, but would you be willing to speak to a doctor about what you’re going through?”
Give Them Time to Talk and Listen Without Interrupting
You must give people who are dealing with depression time to talk about their feelings.
You might be concerned that they are just getting worse, but if you listen to them, they will feel better.
Listening without interrupting them can help them feel better.
It’s also important to remember that individuals may have different reasons for depression-like trauma or grief, so be patient with them and don’t judge their experience.
It’s best to say, “I love you and it’s not your fault that you’re feeling this way. You can take as long as you need and when you’re ready to talk, I’ll listen and understand you.”
Remind Them That You Value Them
Depression can make people think that they’re not worth anything. That is why you need to tell them that they matter and that you care about them. It may take time, but they will realize how much you love them.
You can do this by telling them each day that you care about them and appreciate them for who they are. Make sure to say it in different ways.
Say things like “I’m here for you” or “I love talking to you” or even “I’m doing this for you, not because I have to.”
Focusing on the positive aspects of their life can help them remember that they are important people. Asking about what makes them happy can brighten up their day.
Showing genuine interest in things they like will make them feel like you care and like you’re someone they can trust. And to say, “You matter and I want you to know that.”
Let Them Know That You Understand Them
One of the biggest fears for someone with depression is that they’ll be abandoned by their friends and family. If you know someone who has depression, let them know that you understand what they’re going through.
Depression can make people feel incredibly alone, even when surrounded by friends and family who care about them.
It’s important to check in with them often and just let them know that you’re there for them if they need anything.
You can say, “I understand that it must be hard for you to go through this. If you’d like, explain it to me, so I can understand it better.”
It’s OK to Feel Down
Telling someone who is depressed that it’s okay to feel down can help them cope with the feelings they are having.
They might not want to feel this way, but those feelings will exist no matter how much they deny them, and it’s better for them to acknowledge and accept these feelings than try to fight them.
If someone who is depressed asks you if they’re bothering you and making conversation hard, it’s okay to tell them that their presence in your life is more important than them always having something to say.
Remind Them That They’re NOT ‘Broken’
Someone who is depressed needs to know that feeling depressed is not a sign of a weak person or defective person.
It’s just part of how some people’s brains are wired. Remind them that they’re not broken in any way. If you’re close, hug them.
If they don’t like to be touched, let them know that you’re there for them anyway by saying, “Depression is an actual health issue that can be treated. You’re not a burden to anyone and I’m sure everything is going to be okay. I will be there for you. I will help you through the steps.”
Assure Them That There’s Hope
One of the most important things about depression is that they need to learn to cope with it. And also to always remember that even if life seems tough now, it will get better.
It won’t hurt forever, so it’s important to assure them that there’s hope.
Help them realize that it’s an illness, not something they bring upon themselves (like some people may think).
Professionals can help and set up a plan to get things under control, and you can play your part by saying, “Your feelings are real and I want to be here to help you through it. I believe that one day you’ll be okay, the darkness will go away, and your days will be bright again.”
What You Can’t Say to Avoid Hurting Their Feelings
It is important to understand the person who is depressed and see things from their perspective.
If you say something, no matter how well-intentioned, that puts down the person who is depressed, they will also likely feel hurt.
The person may already be putting themselves down which means they may not need to hear what someone else says about them.
It’s best to avoid saying anything about their situation and try to offer encouragement to lift them back up instead. It is important not to hurt their feelings so it is best to avoid saying these words.
“I know exactly what you’re going through.”
It is a bad idea to say this to a person who is depressed. They may feel as if you are minimizing their experience or that you have no idea what they’re going through because your circumstances were not the same.
It may be better to say things like “I really hurt for you” to avoid hurting the other person’s feelings.
“Everyone gets depressed.”
It is not good to tell this to someone sad. It makes the person feels more alone, and it does not make them feel better.
The sad person probably knows that everyone gets depressed and it will get better somehow, but still, it is not helpful to tell someone sad, “Come on. Snap out of it!” It makes the person feels weak.
“Look at the bright sides.”
Do not say, “Look at the bright sides” to a depressed person.
If a person is deeply depressed, a family member or friend can help them by encouraging them to take medication or going with them to the doctor.
But telling a depressed person to “Look at the bright sides” will only make an already difficult situation worse. It shows that you don’t really understand what they are going through.
“You just need to get out and meet some people.”
A person who is feeling very down might not want to talk to other people. For a person who feels they have no friends, this is a very alienating comment.
A person cannot just decide to have more friends or that they have social anxiety and then instantaneously be able to talk to people, particularly strangers.
It would be like telling someone with an illness that they just need to think positively about being healed.
“Just have a rest and loosen up.”
When somebody is sad, it’s important to not tell them to “just relax” because it sounds like you don’t care about their problems.
But if somebody is stressed out, they really do need to relax. Relaxing is what helps people come up with solutions for their problems.
So how does one relax?
Everybody has different methods, but it usually involves doing something you enjoy.
When somebody is stressed out, they are probably thinking about all of the things that are making them feel that way.
If they stop thinking about those things for a while and just do something to have fun, then their brain will be able to think about their problems more clearly.
So, maybe, you could come up with a plan to ask them to go for a walk instead.
Finally, Be Supportive
It’s important to be supportive and understanding towards someone who is feeling depressed.
If you try asking the person what is troubling them or how they’re feeling, they might open up to you and will feel better after talking about it.
Again, it’s important to be patient and accepting of their feelings.
You could also try doing things that will make them feel better like watching a funny movie or giving them a gift that is special to you.
You could even take them out on a date and try to make their day better.
Overall, just be there for the person and listen to what they have to say.