While there seems to be a ton of articles and advice available that is tailored for those who are struggling with depression, there doesn’t seem to be too many articles made for those who have friends that are struggling with depression. However, helping a friend through difficult times is just as important!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with depression, depression is a mental illness, and can be mild or severe in nature. It is characterized by a persistent somber mood and a lack of interest or excitement in life and activities.
Clinically speaking, depression can be mild, moderate, or severe in presentation. To be officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, as noted in the DSM-5, a person must consult with and be under treatment from a mental health professional. However, many people suffer the symptoms of depression regardless of whether they have an official diagnosis.
If you know someone close to you who is dealing with depression and needs some extra support in coping with symptoms of depression, here are some tips to help your friend cope and learn to love life again!
1. Remind Them That They’re Important and Loved
Depression has the ability to make someone feel as though they are not important or loved. This could not be further from the truth! However, those who are dealing with depression may not be able to see this.
The most important thing that you can do for your friend is let them know that you are there, and that you care about them immensely. Although this may not settle in immediately for your friend, this type of support reminds them that their contributions are important and will help them to find the motivation to seek out options for recovery.
Even more important, you must back up this emotional support with supportive actions. If your friend needs help with anything, make sure to go out of your way to prove that they can rely on you to help them out in their time of need.
When your friend begins to see that they have the support of another person, they will begin to realize that they are worthy of love and happiness, which plays a big role in the recovery process.
2. Reintroduce Activities That They Used to Love
As was stated earlier in the article, depression often prevents a person from enjoying the activities that they used to love.
One of the biggest tips that health websites provide for those dealing with depression is to continue doing activities that previously enjoyed doing, even if it offers no joy at the moment.
When you have time, reach out to your friend and plan an event that you can do together at some point during the week. Ask them what they used to enjoy before they became depressed and take note of these activities so you can schedule more plans in the future.
These plans will help them to get out of the house, get back into their old lives, and guide them towards the realization that they are not alone and have people that they can rely on.
3. Provide a Safe and Secure Place to Vent Their Feelings
Not everyone understands depression and this lack of understanding can sometimes cause people to get frustrated with people who are depressed and who are struggling to be positive or find the light.
Patience is a virtue, however, and it is important that you remain patient and withhold judgment while your friend is going through this difficult time.
Give them a secure place to vent their feelings and lend them an ear without attempting to give them unsolicited advice. Individuals who are dealing with depression just need someone to connect with and talk to. This can make a world of difference! Of course, if they do ask for your advice and you think you have something to offer them, go for it! If you don’t know what to say, however, it is sometimes better to say nothing than to say the wrong thing.
You can even recommend that they seek help from a mental health professional if you feel that you are not equipped to offer the advice that they are looking for.
4. Offer Words of Encouragement and Positivity
There is nothing better than feeling terrible and hearing kind and uplifting words from your friend.
If you notice that your friend is beginning to experience self-doubt or starting to talk down to themselves when they are around you, offer kind words and remind them of who they are.
Depression often provides people with a view of themselves through a distorted lens. Treating depression calls for challenging negative thoughts, which can be hard if you’re coping on your own and do not have any reminders of who you used to be.
Lift your friend up when possible and reintroduce them to that older version of themselves so they can begin challenging those thoughts on their own.
It is also important to note that you shouldn’t overdo it when it comes to encouragement and positivity. Not everyone dealing with depression has a high tolerance for these things and pushing positivity on someone could have the opposite effect desired!
5. Use Humor to Heal
They say that laughter is the best medicine. This is especially true when it comes to depression!
In fact, one study conducted by the Sapienza University of Rome found that laughter can actually improve your mood and lessen the effects of the symptoms that one experiences while dealing with depression.
Whenever you’re with your friend, make your best effort to make them laugh. No matter what they find funny, even if it is usually slightly inappropriate, take those jokes and use them to your advantage.
Just a simple giggle can have a huge effect on the way that your friend feels. Even if you only manage to alleviate their feelings for a second, that second can really improve their outlook of the future.
6. Show Them You Care by Doing Little Things
Yes, grand gestures of affection can certainly show someone that you care. However, it is often the little things that really make others light up and feel better about themselves and life in general.
Make an effort to show your friend you care about them and their happiness by doing little things that matter to them.
For example, you could do something as simple as hiding small notes of encouragement around their house and belongings or by giving some of their favorite treats each day.
Whichever actions say “I care about you” to your friend, go out of your way to do those things and watch them light up in response.
7. Help Them Create a Valuable Support System
Here’s the truth: you aren’t going to be able to help your friend deal with everything on your own. They are going to need other people in their life and you are going to have to take breaks to take of yourself as well.
People who are dealing with depression need a solid support system to help them get on the road to recovery so that they can return to their happiness.
Reach out to other friends within your and your friend’s friend group and see what they can do to help your friend love life again.
By creating a solid support system, you will have an even easier time supporting your friend and helping to usher them back into the light.
Life is a truly beautiful thing, and those who are dealing with depression just need to be reminded of that. By using these 7 tips above, you will have no problem helping your friend find their happiness once again!
Buckley, Dylan. “How to Help a Friend With Depression Learn to Love Life Again.” Lifehack, Lifehack, 2 Aug. 2018, www.lifehack.org/783795/how-to-help-a-friend-with-depression.