Supporting a loved one suffering with depression
Many well- meaning friends just seem lost not knowing what to do or say when they hear about a friend or family member suffering with depression. Even though you may have the best of intentions, saying the wrong thing can actually have a worse effect than saying nothing at all.
This is the reason I am writing this article today. I hope it will help you to reach out to someone who is feeling depressed and have the confidence that what you will say will raise their spirits.
What they don't need to hear:
- Don't minimize their pain
- Don't tell them you also feel depressed from time to time – it's not the same thing at all
- Don't push them too hard
- Don't tell them to "Suck it up" or "get over it"
- Don't tell them to "Get their act together"
- Don't make fun of them
- Don't avoid them, they need your contact
- Don't tell them to "cheer up"
- Don't call them "lazy"
- Don't blame them
- Don't judge them
- With compassion
- With love
- With understanding
- With patience
- With respect
- With tolerance
- With reassurance
- With support
- With caring
- With acceptance
- By comforting them
- By offering help
- Just listen
- With an effort to keep them involved
- By taking over sometimes
- By being encouraging them without applying pressure
- By including them at the level they can participate
- By visiting briefly but also giving them the space they need
- By reducing the demands
- By making concrete suggestions without pressure
- By being direct and asking if they need help
- By taking them out to eat or for some light activity
- By making them laugh
- By encouraging them to continue taking their medication and seeking therapy, even if they don't feel it is helping them in this moment
To heal from depression, takes time and patience. It is a slow and painful road to follow. Just being there for a friend, and lifting their spirits, even for a short time, can make a tremendous difference in how quickly and how motivated they can become to cope and heal.
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"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."