Depression can be a very difficult condition to overcome, which is why the ones who suffer from it need to seek out guidance and find people who would be there to support their day-to-day struggle and every painful emotion that comes along.
Psychologist Selena C. Snow, Ph.D., says, “[A] depressed person has an opportunity to learn that they are not the only one suffering in silence as they gain support and empathy from others who understand the depths of their pain. And they benefit from the encouragement of peers to take small steps forward.”
If you never had to fight the exhausting and grim battle with depression, you might not have the best knowledge on how to help these people. But there are some simple, yet very effective methods which you could apply and actually try to help a person suffering from depression feel like themselves again.
1. DON’T PRETEND LIKE DEPRESSION DOESN’T EXIST
Depression is a serious mental illness that is taking over innocent lives, so pretending like it is a simple and crazy “state of the mind”, will not only make it worse, it could become a potential threat for the person struggling with depressive thoughts.
The first thing you could do to help them is accepting their condition. Make sure you acknowledge their current painful state and understand their suffering.
2. DON’T TRY TO FIX THEM
The person battling depression is neither crazy nor broken. They are the victim of a very common, and serious mental illness that needs to be treated with the utmost attention.
You might sometimes feel like you can’t fix them and help them, but the most important thing you should never forget is to give them the love and support they desperately need.
3. EASE UP ON THE POSITIVITY
Trying to be the sun who shines upon them with positivity can be helpful to depressive people. However, remember to never drown them in endless positivity.
It might have the opposite effect on them and make them feel even worse when they fail to reach happiness on their own. What’s more, it can also be very annoying. Stay positive, but don’t force it.
4. LET THEM TALK TO YOU
The only way you could get to know more about their condition is to make them feel comfortable and willing to share with you.
“Don’t avoid the person because you can’t think of something clever to say – someone who can listen is valuable. Sometimes just being there with them is valuable, so don’t put pressure on them to have something to say either.”
“Make it clear that you want them to feel free to talk about anything that’s on their mind – but only when they feel able to,” says psychiatrist Michael Simpson
5. TRY TO UNDERSTAND THEIR FEELINGS
No matter how irrational or perplexing their emotions might be, you make sure to try and understand them. Make sure you treat them respectfully and let them know they don’t have to feel bad about their emotions.
Make them realize that every living human being has their own burden and all of us have our own ways of coping with it. Make them realize that they shouldn’t be afraid of it.
6. BE THEIR SUPPORT
Most importantly, no matter how confused you might be, never ever leave them. Be their unconditional support even if you don’t know how to respond to their ache.
Psychiatrist and author Dr. Gail Saltz says, “Most people’s reaction—it isn’t conscious—is to pull away, get away… Know that you can talk to them without feeling what they feel. You can do a great service by reaching out. You don’t have to imagine what it feels like.”
7. INVITE THEM TO GO OUT
Most of these people who fight their own battle with depression live a closeted life in solitude, far away from the real world.
However, you should definitely try to encourage your friend to get out of the house for a change. Suggest some nice, cozy place and ask them for dinner, or a cup of coffee. A change of scenery might be exactly the thing they need.
8. SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
But, as much as you like to help your loved one who is dealing with depression, it is important to learn to take care of yourself. Make sure you set boundaries for yourself, so you don’t get overwhelmed. You will do more damage to both of you than good.
“Taking care of someone with depression can be a lot to take on. It’s important that you set aside time for yourself. Do things you enjoy. Get out of the house every now and then.”
“Take walks, or go to the gym. Hang out with friends. You may feel guilty for thinking about yourself. But if you don’t, you’ll burn out — and that won’t help either of you,” adds WebMD.