How do I help someone with depression? Someone close to you may be depressed, you want to help but you are not sure how. Here is the ultimate list of ways you can help someone with depression.
Helping someone with depression is not an easy task. You are not sure if you should stand back, ignore the depression or actively talk about it. Ultimately you just want that person to get better and you would do anything within your power to help – you are just not sure how. This post will show you some of the things to do (and not to do) when someone you know is going through a battle with depression.
PS – if you like this post and want to read more of my writing, check out my book, Redesign Your Mind – which is about living as a young person and overcoming challenges of anxiety, depression and negative thinking. It is my story, and you never know who you might save by giving them a copy of this book. Click here to find out more.
Stay in contact – but don’t bombard them
One of the worst things you can do is keep your distance. Make sure you stay in regular contact, and try to keep it similar to how it was before. Sure, your friend would appreciate you checking in on them a little more often, but you don’t want to bombard them so that they feel like you are just obliged to call them because they are depressed.
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Keep their spirits up
Whenever you see them it is important to be positive and keep their spirits up. When someone is depressed, even just a quick catch up with a friend who is positive and happy will make a massive difference. They will feed off of your energy and it will help them whether they realise it or not.
Tell them that it is ok not to be ok
This is massive. Having a friend tell them that it is ok not to be ok, and that you still love them anyway is so important. Check out one of my most popular posts about how it is ok to be depressed for more info.
Tell them about your problems and ask for their opinion
Nothing helps you forget about your problems more than speaking to someone else about theirs! Telling them about your problems and asking for their opinion will help them understand that everyone has problems, and it will fire up the part of the brain that tries to work out how to get through it. It will also take their mind off feeling sorry for themselves for a short time which is a great way to take the pressure off.
Do not fuel any negative thoughts they are practicing
It is easy to be negative when you are depressed. They might go on and on about something negative, but it is up to you to short circuit these thoughts and move on to another subject. Definitely here them out, and work through it with them, but once they repeat any negative thoughts you can help by talking about the positives and the things they can look forward too.
Do not show concern or worry when you see them
When someone is depressed it is only going to scare them if you show concern and worry for them. This will bring on feelings of guilt for the depressed person. We want to lift up their spirits, not make them feel guilty for being depressed. I know you might be anxious about the situation. If you are, then you might want to read more about why you are anxious and what you can do about it by clicking here.
Encourage them to be active
Research shows that exercise reduces depression by at least 20%. Being active for at least 30 minutes a day will get the blood pumping and the endorphins flowing, both important factors in getting through depression. Maybe you can sign up to gym with them? Or go for a brisk walk together? Join a sports team? Use the excuse that you want to do it with someone and you want them to join you, so they feel valued.
Encourage them to show gratitude
Showing gratitude is a great way to forget about depression and start cultivating positive thoughts. Ask them what they are grateful for and help them come up with the answers. Find out more about gratitude and its importance by clicking here.
Have a laugh and not be too serious
Laughter has clinically been proven to help with depression. If you can get them to laugh, you are well on your way to brightening up their day. Try to see the funny side of things when you are with them and not take things too seriously. Maybe play a fun game, or watch a silly movie. Anything that will help get the giggles going to short circuit the negative thoughts for a while.
Keep inviting them to social events with no obligation to attend
It is important to keep inviting them out – do not decide for them that they wont want to come. Even if they choose not to come, it would be much worse if they found out that you didn’t invite them in the first place. Do not put any pressure on them to come. You can invite them and say that you would love for them to come, but that it is up to them. You understand either way.
Encourage them to read books to beat depression
There are heaps of books, tools and techniques to help someone get through depression. Ask them if they have tried reading any books, and maybe mention a few good ones you have heard of that might be suitable for them. Don’t pressure them into doing it, they have to want to read it themselves. Guiding them and encouraging them is all you can do.
Be a friend, not a critic
At the end of the day you are their partner, friend, family or co-worker. You are not their critic. You are not there to judge them or tell them what they need to do to get better. You can show them things that might help and encourage them, but do not criticise or judge. The best thing you can do is give them your support, regardless of how they decide to use your support. Depression is not an easy thing and they might treat you like shit at times, without even knowing it. Accept that this is not their behaviour and it is due to the depression, and be their friend either way.
Get them help if they need it
Ultimately the best way for someone to get through depression is to actively seek help themselves, but sometimes there is no other way. I would suggest to speak with someone else that is close with them first, and see if they can help too. Potentially engaging the help of a psychologist will help you all get through this challenging time. Maybe this person will feel way better about themselves if they let all of their problems out to someone they don’t know – a psychologist who is a professional at helping people deal with depression. Support them in every way you can.
You can help people get through depression
Depression and mental illness is not easy, I know. We all have a role to play when someone we know is depressed. By practicing some of the things above and not shying away from the fact that this person is depressed, we can make a difference and look forward to beating depression together. Please put your comments below with any ideas or things you do to help people that are depressed. We are always learning and finding new ways to beat mental illness, so please share your story if you can.
About the author – Stef – Mental Health Advocate
I am a published author with my book, Redesign Your Mind. I write to help people with their mental health. Through my story I hope to help others on their journey to a positive mindset. Click here to find out more about my book, Redesign Your Mind and how you can order a copy through Amazon. A portion of every sale is donated to mental health organisations to help raise awareness of positive mental health!