Thursday 18th March 2021

How To Help A Friend With Depression

Do you have a friend with depression? According to a recent survey, 1 out of 6 people reports that they have experienced at least some mental health problem (like depression) in England in the past. Many reports have shown that depression rates have increased manifolds in the past few years. Depression is a very subjective term, and it hits different people in different ways based on their personal experiences, backgrounds, personalities, culture, etc.

If you think someone you care about is dealing with depression and you feel clueless about how to help, the following points might help you. 

1.Talk To Them:

Sometimes, people with depression don’t want any advice or solutions to their problems; all they want is someone who can listen to them so that they can let out what has bottled up inside them. They feel like nothing really matters, or no one cares about them, and such constant negative thoughts haunt them. You can do what they probably need, that is, listening to them, make them feel heard and show them that you genuinely care for them. It doesn’t matter even if they have nothing to say, and people take time to open up (even if you think you’re their closest friends); just let them know that you’re there to listen whenever they feel ready and comfortable. Be patient. You don’t have to point out how what they’re saying doesn’t make sense, or it’s stupid paying attention to minute things that they’re worried about. Fun fact, most of the people with depression know how stupid it is not to be able to do things that are considered normal, but they still can’t help it. It’s like watching milk getting spilt while your hands are tied by a rope where the rope is just a mental barrier that has been created.

2.Get Professional Help:

We as humans are not capable of everything every time, so one might not be in a position to help others in every case scenario. So it’s always advisable to ask for professional help when you think that your friend’s condition is worsening or it’s something that needs more than just time and you. There are many affordable therapists out there who would be more than willing to take up your friend’s case. One should not be afraid to consult a therapist just because of the stigma around mental illnesses. They might suggest some support groups or therapy or medications (in extreme cases) or some other resources that can help your friend. Your friend might not be willing to get professional help, so you can try to understand what their reasons might be or convince them to take one therapist session at the moment. 

3.Pet Therapy:

Pets are known for reducing stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness.  Pets act as a valuable companion for humans and add joy and love to one’s life. Pet therapy helps people to recover or cope up with depression. Studies have shown that people with pets have less chances of suffering from depression than those without pets. Professional pet therapy revolves around trained animals, but a normal pet at home can also help people with not so extreme cases. 

4.Encourage Them To Do Something That They Enjoy:

Depression can make a person fatigue, and they find no motivation to do things that they used to enjoy at one point. You can encourage them to go to something that they used to love or would love now. These can be as simple as drawing, colouring, cycling, cooking, reading, listening to music or going out to eat, trying different cuisines or games, literally anything to take them out of the loop of their thoughts. One can always find colouring books that have to be filled with happy and vibrant colours or reading books of fiction to escape from reality for some time and come back with a different perspective, or listening to a new genre of music and there much more to explore in this world. Studies have shown that spending time in nature or with your loved ones help in improving the mental health of individuals. You can encourage them to exercise, practice yoga or meditate. Physical exercises increase the release of certain chemicals like endorphins that enhance the well being of the individuals. Physical exercise keeps the body and mind running. Meditation can help in changing how the brain responds to depression and anxiety. You can either encourage them to do buddy exercises or register them for meditation or yoga classes. You can go with them for a few classes as it will help them in trusting the process as well as encourage them constantly

5.Support Them:

You should help your friend in continuing their therapy as they might be hesitant or think that therapy is useless or not working as it’s hard to see one’s own progress. Ask them what they don’t like about the particular therapy or therapist. You can offer to consult a different therapist. You can help them to join some self-help groups so that they can actually meet and talk to people with depression and see that they are not alone. They’ll be more open and motivated to share their thoughts and feelings in the group or personally with someone after listening to others share their stories. It’s always fascinating to see other people’s minor but significant signs of progress and help each other with continuous and group efforts.    

6.Take Care Of Yourself:

One should not forget that one can’t help others in a drowning ship without knowing how to swim themselves; this will only lead to both of you being drowned together in the end. In this context, it means that you can’t help your friends with depression if you’re not emotionally available yourself. If you try to help your friends while also being emotionally unavailable, it will only worsen their situation as well as yours. It’s hard, but you’ll have to set boundaries at some point. No matter how much you want to or desire, you can’t be there for your friends all the time. You’ll have to set boundaries so that they don’t emotionally drain you and affect your personal life, growth, work and mental health. You should monitor your mood and see if something drains you or increase your stress levels. 

7.Celebrate Their Small Success:

It’s always evident for a person to notice when they are wrong but not when they are right and making some progress or improvements. All the achievements take a lot or at least some efforts, and just because they are considered small on our worldly scale, these efforts are ignored, and one returns to feeling like they have done nothing so far. You can recognise your friend’s efforts while appreciating and celebrating them with them. Make sure they feel that their efforts are not worthless and do not go unnoticed. These small successes lead to more significant victories with time. Show them that you are proud of them, and they deserve to be proud of themselves. 

To conclude this article, we sincerely hope you’re somewhat (if not complete) better equipped to help a friend with depression. Always look out for signs, and imagine a world where people cared about each other as much as you care about your friend to read an article in an attempt to help them. These small efforts and ways are what make this world a wonderful place to live in. Don’t forget to talk to them, seek professional help if necessary, get them a pet, encourage and support them, celebrate small successes but also take care of your mental and physical well being. We see you, and we appreciate your efforts.

Let us know in the comments how you think you can help your friends with depression which we might have missed!