the frequency of this disease, it is likely you will personally know someone struggling with depression at some point in your lifetime.
If you’re worried your friend might be suffering from depression and want to help as much as possible through this difficult period, consider these tips.
How is Depression Different?
Everyone has periods of sadness, but clinical depression is another type of beast. A severely depressed individual may find it a struggle to complete even the most simple of daily tasks, rendering them unable to function effectively in their normal routines. It’s not something that can always be overcome with positive thinking, and it affects so many different facets of life, including namely, relationships—don’t let yours with your friend become a victim to this disease.
Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help
Your friend might be very resistant to reach out to you, let alone reach out to a therapist or other licensed professional. However, depression is a scary condition, and it’s worth talking to your friend about accessing care should the situation require it. It can be hard to know whether they need care or not. There are certain signs to look for: if he or she mentions suicidal thoughts, if they aren’t able to eat, or if sleep has become impossible, they need to seek help and work out some sort of treatment.
While mental illness is more talked about in recent years than it has ever been, there’s still plenty of misconceptions about depression and anxiety. To fully be there for your friend, you need to take your time to understand the condition. Do your research; go online, check out books, look at recent studies. The more you know, the more helpful you can be.
Your friend likely won’t reach out for you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need your support. Stay in touch as much as possible. It may be frustrating when they aren’t returning your texts or answering your calls, but it’s essential that you continue reaching out. Their retraction from life is no reflection of their feelings towards you or your friendship; depression makes even basic functions feel impossible. Part of being there might mean taking initiative to do the things he or she can’t handle anymore. This might mean picking up groceries, doing their laundry, or even dropping off prepared meals to make sure they’re eating. If you live far away, you can help do many of these things through services. You can send a cleaning brigade to their home with Merry Maids, have groceries or recipe boxes like Hello Fresh dropped off at their door, and ask close-by friends to check in on them every now and again.
You should strive to become a listener more than a talker when it comes to your interactions with your friend. Listen to their concerns, prompt them with open ended questions that will get a conversation going, and be wary of offering advice. Don’t feel compelled to say something; depression doesn’t always make sense, and there isn’t always an answer. You can, however, always provide words of support and hope, without diminishing the pain your friend is currently experiencing. Everyone deals with and overcomes depression in a different way, so what works for someone else you knew might not work for this particular friend.
By no means will gifts help them “get over” their illness, but providing little bits of happiness will put bright spots into a week that might have been otherwise difficult. Grab a special gift to let them know you’re thinking of them, or drop off a bouquet of flowers just because. This is another way to show you care without overwhelming your friend, and lets them know you’ll be patient while they work through their illness.
Watching a friend suffer from depression is tough, but you can make the difference by being a pillar of support while they work to get better. Use these guidelines to be there for your friend and give them hope of a brighter future.
This is a guest blog entry.