8 Ways To Help a Friend Suffering with Depression

A 2015 report from the Child Mind Institute found that only about 20 percent of young people with diagnosable anxiety disorder get treatment. That means that many of your friends in class and on campus who struggle with depression and other mental disorders are not getting help.

Combine that with another survey that suggests that 1 in 5 students has considered the possibility of suicide and we have a lot of hurting people around us. You may know some of these who are hurting. You may have experienced a friend that wanted to commit suicide.

What did you do?

How did you handle the situation?   

Were you able to help?

I hope you were able to provide help to this friend that was hurting. But some of you may not know what to do. I wanted to provide for you some ways to help a friend or friends who are suffering under the weight of depression.

Here is a list of some ideas. Feel free to leave a comment and add some other ideas if you have them.

  1. Be there to listen. Make conversations about what they’re going through easy and open. Ask them what you can do – find out what they find helpful during tough times. Make sure you acknowledge they are feeling down but try and remain positive and encouraging. Send them notes of encouragement. Send them texts to help them get through the day.
  2. Choose when to talk. If you want to bring up a sensitive issue with someone, try and choose a time when you are both relaxed.
  3. Accept their condition. If someone is suffering from symptoms of depression, it isn’t possible for them to just snap out of it, cheer up, or forget about it. Asking them to do this can come across like you’re not taking their feelings seriously and could upset them. It is difficult for someone who has never been through depression to understand what it is like. If there was an instantaneous solution the person would have already done that to be well. It just does not work that way. Add an extra measure of compassion when you are helping a person suffering from depression.
  4. Get informed. Finding out more info about depression might help you better understand what someone is going through. There are various website, books, and blogs that can help you become informed about the situation your friend is in.
  5. Encourage them to get help. If you have a friend with depression, it’s really important that they seek help. It is a good first step to have them speak with their counselor if you are on a school campus. It is also a good idea to have them visit their medical doctor. Sometimes there are some real physical problems that can cause depression. If no solution is found down that avenue then their medical doctor can help them take the next step. If they are uncomfortable you might offer to go with them as an encouragement and support system.
  6. Back down if they aren’t ready. If you think a friend needs to visit an expert but they didn’t respond well to the suggestion, don’t force the issue or put too much pressure on them – it could put them off getting help. Remain supportive by offering help and suggestions when asked.
  7. The exception to #6 is if you think someone may be in danger or at risk of hurting themselves or someone else. In this case it’s important that you seek help immediately.
  8. Finally, remember that depression is hard to explain and often a very lonely experience. When you are there to support a friend just by being available it can have a tremendous impact in their lives. Never underestimate the importance of just being there.

What other ideas do you have? How can you better help a friend who is going through a dark period in life?
Feel free to comment.

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