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How To Help A Friend Struggling With Depression

February 27, 2015

It can be hard watching a friend struggle with depression. They may not want to go out and have fun, look forlorn and lack energy, avoid hanging out, and not want to talk or enjoy conversation. You may ask them, “what’s wrong?” and they will likely respond with something like, “I am fine,” or “just having a bad day.” When you start to notice a friend regularly exhibiting depression symptoms, there are many ways you can help them to overcome depression symptoms. Check out these tips.

Show your support: Don’t hesitate to express your concern and show sympathy for what your friend is experiencing. Let your friend know that you are there for them and available to listen or talk whenever needed. Whatever you do, don’t judge your friend for feeling sad, even if you think their reasons for feeling that way are silly. Ask what you can do to help, offer a hug, and most importantly, let them know you are available. People with depression or other mental health disorders often withdraw. Show your support by inviting them out for drinks, to dinner, a movie, to hang out with friends, etc. Avoid the temptation to leave your friend alone, even if they are insistent that you do so. Granted, sometimes people need alone time, but if you notice your friend regularly avoiding social interaction, don’t be afraid to knock on their door and encourage them to go out for a cup of coffee.

Listen more than you talk and encourage: When someone is sad, sometimes, all they want to do is cry or talk without being offered advice. Listen to your friend in a non-critical way and encourage them to talk about what they are feeling. Let your friend know that you are taking what they say seriously and urge them to talk openly about what they are going through. If you avoid criticism, your friend will begin to trust that you will not judge their feelings and feel more open discussing their concerns. Reassure your friend that you care for him or her and will be there whenever they need a confidant.

Suggest outside mental health resources: If you persistently worry about your friend’s well-being, encourage them to seek help from a psychologist or therapist. This is especially pertinent if they are unwilling to talk and/or make threats to harm themselves. Call 911 or a member of your friend’s family if you feel afraid for your friend’s life or their immediate safety. Likewise, if you see your friend’s health or standard of living seriously decline in conjunction with their sadness, persist in encouraging them to seek help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other friends and family members for assistance. Your friend may not appreciate your efforts initially, but will understand once they are in a better place emotionally.

The Crisis Call Center has a 24-hour hotline if ever you need to ask questions – 800-273-8255. You can also give this phone number to your friends struggling with depression. Prevail Health also has programs available for people suffering from depression. our website can be found here at iPrevail.com.

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