The age old saying ‘a friend in need is a friend indeed’ does aptly apply for anyone going through depression too. When psychologists or psychiatrists look at the probability and course of recovery for any client/patient, they always consider social support as a major contributor. This refers to support, care, and understanding on part of family, friends, co-workers, and at a larger scale even the community members of the client. If your friend is going through depression, here is how you can help.
How To Help A Friend
Start with getting to know more about depression. Gain more information about what it actually is, and what the symptoms are. Information can help identify triggers and other factors that might be contributing to the person’s negative thoughts and thus help in order to identify and help them better.
Take It Seriously And Hear Them Out
People tend to underestimate the person by saying, ‘hey! come on! be positive!’ and all such things but it is good to know that it is deeper than just this, and so, it is good to acknowledge that it is ‘not just another thing’ and has no fixing required. Avoid statements like, “It’s all in your head, you should just go to work.”
It is a good choice to let the person share how they are feeling and what is going through their mind. So, be that patient ear and a warm shoulder rather than being an advisor or lecturer.
Encourage Them To Seek Help And Be There Throughout The Treatment
Professional help makes a lot of difference and ensures proper treatment. If needed, go with them for the visit to the psychologist. Your inputs and observation might help clinicians get a better picture also in case your friend does not share much. Be there for them during the treatment phase and the recovery phase too. Know that depression might cause the person to stay isolated and alone, BUT they actually need you.
Your presence, support and love matters a lot during this time. Loneliness can aggravate the depressive feelings and negative thoughts. If they push you away, know that it is not them, but the depressive thoughts that is making them do it. So, hang in there. Be present emotionally, and whenever necessary, physically too.
Do Take Suicidal Signs Or Warnings Seriously
Depression can flood your friend’s mind with negative thoughts of worthlessness, or helplessness, and suicide is indeed a very big concern. Look for signs when they talk to you or share their feelings, look if they talk about life being meaningless or things like everything would be good if I am gone. Such signs are red flags and should help you stay alert and inform necessary people like family or doctors/counsellors about it.
Take Care Of Yourself
Yes. This indeed is very important. It takes time for your friend to come out of depression; and seeing a friend go through such a tough phase can be emotionally and physically very overwhelming and exhausting.
- Speak out about your feelings to someone who you think will understand, about the whole process, if it is upsetting you, frustrating or if it is difficult for you. Seek support for yourself too so you can stay healthy and help better.
- Do not burden yourself with guilt for what your friend is going through. It is not you who has caused it.
- Know that you can only help to a certain extent (like, by being present, by supporting and encouraging) and you cannot completely fix their depression. Try to have realistic perceptions and expectations.
Here is an educational video about what DEPRESSION is all about and how to deal with it.
Depression can be difficult to deal with, but it is treatable. It can be a very tough phase for your friend, but know that he/she is more a person and that depression is just a small part. So, be the hope and help your friend sail through it!
Here are three other articles which elaborate different aspects of Depression: