How can you help someone struggling with depression? Whether it’s a close friend or even a family member, what should you not say to this person, and what can you say instead?
Mental health topics, especially depression are very personal to me. As someone diagnosed with major depressive disorder, I try to find out everything I can about it. I don’t judge others, because, who am I to throw the first stone?
My struggle with depression started soon after my daughter was born, and while I do have good days and bad days, it’s just recently that after being consistently in therapy while taking my medications, I’ve been really able to enjoy more good days than bad. It also helped that I was no longer in a toxic relationship with my now ex-husband.
I’ve shared bits and pieces of my life, but I’ve never really delved into the deep details of how our relationship was. Not only was it mentally and emotionally abusive, but it was also verbally and physically abusive as well. People would ask, “Why did you stay as long as you did amidst all the cheating and abuse?” My honest answer was, “I did love my husband, but I was also in love with who he was when we first met and the potential of who he could become.” However, he never lived up to that potential.
My one piece of advice is:
Never date anyone because of their potential because you’ll be disappointed; date them for who they are, and if they’re faking it, they will eventually show you who they are.AnnMarie John
But enough about my past relationship. It’s all being documented in my book, to be published soon.
I could always tell when I was going through a depressive episode and, while it could happen at any time, I found that it would happen mostly during the holidays or dates that I would associate with significant events. I would lack the ability and motivation to do anything. All I wanted to do was simply lie in bed. I didn’t want to clean, cook, or sometimes even muster up the effort to take a shower in the morning. I would reminisce about the past and the good old days and forget to live in the present.
Throughout my struggles, I’ve encountered many people who thought they were helping me by articulating words they thought were helpful. Instead, those words made me feel even worse about myself, dragging me deeper into the pits of depression. So if you have someone near to you who’s struggling with depression this post is for you.
Here are a few tips on how to help your loved one who’s struggling with depression:
Do Your Research
Educate yourself on depression. It never hurts to have more knowledge on the topic. This way you can better understand what your loved one is going through and offer more helpful tips and advice.
Be There for Them
Sometimes all we need is someone there to simply listen to us. Don’t try to fix the problem or offer solutions. Just be a sounding board for when they need to talk.
Don’t Minimize Their Feelings
Just because you don’t understand what they’re going through, doesn’t mean their feelings are invalid. Don’t try to tell them how they should feel or that it could be worse.
Be Patient With Them
Depression can be a long and arduous journey. It’s important to be patient with your loved ones and not get frustrated with them if they’re having a bad day or week.
Do Something Fun Together
One of the best ways to fight depression is by doing things that make us happy. So, spend some time with your loved ones and do something that they enjoy. This will not only help take their minds off of their depression but also create lasting memories together.
Read Also: How Travel Can Help With Depression
Encourage Them to Seek Help from a Mental Health Professional
If you feel like their depression is getting worse, or they’re having thoughts of harming themselves, it’s best to encourage them to seek professional help. There are many treatment options available for depression, but sometimes, medication and therapy are necessary in order to get better. This is a big step for someone struggling with depression, so be there to support them every step of the way.
These are just a few tips on how you can help your loved one struggling with depression. Just remember to be there for them, show them support and encourage them to seek professional help if necessary. If you are struggling with depression and need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m more than happy to lend a listening ear. 🙂
Now, when it comes to what you shouldn’t say to someone struggling with depression, here’s what you should NEVER say.
“It’s all in your head.”
“Just snap out of it.”
“You’re just looking for attention.”
“I don’t know why you’re so depressed, you have nothing to be depressed about.”
“You’re just being lazy.”
“You’re ruining our happy day with your depression.”
All of these statements are hurtful and invalidating. They make the person feel like their feelings are wrong and that they should just be able to “snap out of it”. Depression is a real illness that should never be taken lightly. So if you want to help someone struggling with depression, avoid saying any of the above statements.
Instead, here are a few things you CAN say to help your loved one struggling with depression.
Say these instead…
“I’m here for you, no matter what.”
“It sounds like you’re feeling really down today, what can I do to help?”
“I’m always here to listen if you need to talk.”
“You’re not alone in this, I’m here with you.”
“Depression is a real illness and you’re doing the best you can.”
Let them know that you’re there for them and that they’re not alone. Show them support and understanding. These are the things that will really help someone struggling with depression. You can even suggest an emotional support animal.
If you are struggling with depression, please reach out to a mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone.