Wondering how to talk with a depressed friend? Actually, it isn’t always a piece of cake. While you may feel nervous and unsure at first, know that whatever you say doesn’t have to be profound or poetic. It should simply be something that comes from a place of compassion and acceptance.
Try not to be discouraged by worry over thinking that you are saying the “wrong” thing. A lot of people with clinical depression feel lonely—a state that only worsens their condition. If you don’t know what to say, just tell that—and tell your friend that you are always there for them.
Often the simplest and reasonable way to begin a conversation is to be direct—ask your friend if they are suffering from depression.
Even science has backed up the significance of social support. Research has demonstrated that the possibility of depression in the past year has reduced trusted sources with high-quality social connections. Social support, especially family support, has a protective factor trusted source for both depression and anxiety.
So, how to talk with a depressed friend? Here are 10 things to say to let them know you care.
1. Keep Telling Them You’re There for Them
Depression can feel as though no one understands and cares about what you are experiencing or even cares enough to try to understand, which can be isolating and overwhelming.
It can be very reassuring to talk with a depressed friend and say to them that you are always there for them whenever you reach out to them.
You may not quite understand what this will look like at first but know that just reminding your friend that you are someone they can lean on can mean the world.
2. Ask How You Can Help
Depression places great pressure on the person who is suffering from it, both physically and mentally, so there are probably many things you can do to ease the burden as your friend recovers.
Your friend may be unwilling to accept your offer for fear of serving as a burden on you, so make it crystal clear that you don’t mind and you want to help in the same way you know they would for you in a similar situation.
Depression may leave your friend so tired and down that, they don’t even know what kind of help to seek. Be prepared with a few specific and particular suggestions, which may include:
Would you like some company for a while?
Would you like me to drive you to your doctor appointments?
Being specific in regards to both the time and the activity can be helpful. For example, instead of saying “Is there anything I can do for you?” perhaps ask, “Could I come over on Sunday morning and do some yard work for you?”
Remember, too, that the help you think your friend may need may not match with what would be beneficial in their eyes. Suggest—and listen.
3. Persuade Them to Talk With a Doctor
Depression treatments are a very crucial part of recovering from depression, but people often feel embarrassed of their condition or negative about whether treatment will really help.
If your friend has not yet seen a doctor, urge them to seek help and reassure them that it is not wrong to ask for assistance. Depression is a real—and treatable—illness.
If your friend is already seeing a doctor, offer to help with picking up medications and being on time for appointments.
4. Ask Them If They Want to Talk
If you are don’t know what to say or how to talk with a depressed friend, in that case the most significant thing you can do for a depressed friend is to just give attention to them sympathetically while they speak about what is worrying them, enabling them to alleviate the pressure of pent-up feelings.
Listening can help make their mental and emotional pain more tolerable as they go through the course of treatment prescribed by their doctor and/or therapist.
Try to listen without interrupting. We all hope to fix things for those we love and often offer quick fixes to cope with our own feelings of helplessness. Sometimes people who are depressed just want to talk without having the conversation taken over with well-meaning advice.
5. Remind Them That They Matter
It’s always nice to realize you’re loved or wanted. When someone has depression, they may feel the exact opposite.
That’s why telling them that they’re important to you, that you want them in their life, and that they matter can be so soothing. You can also be more distinct to what you love about them or how you appreciate them for something they do.
6. Tell Them You Care
These two simple words—“I care”—can mean so much to a person who may be feeling nothing is like what they want. Just say these two words if you don’t know how to talk with a depressed friend or what to say. A hug or a gentle touch of the hand can even deliver this message across. The important thing is to reach out and let the person understand that they matter to you.
7. Tell Them You Understand (If You Really Do)
You can’t force someone to speak, but knowing you’re accessible can really help them feel supported.
If they haven’t been open with you about their depression, you may want to mention you’ve witnessed they’re having a hard time and you’re there if they want to have a chat. If you simply ask “Are you OK?” they may be used to pretending and reply “I’m fine.”
If they’re not ready to speak now, remind them you’re always here for them when they feel ready. When they’re having a tough time and need someone to talk to, they may recall your offer and come to you.
8. Remind Them It’s OK to Feel This Way
Even if your friend’s problems may seem insignificant to you, resist the urge to judge or come up with simple solutions. The biochemical imbalances associated with depression are what is steering how bad your friend feels about certain situations—not the situations themselves.
Instead, let them realize that you are sorry that they are feeling so badly and acquire an attitude of acceptance that this is how their depression is influencing them. If your friend only recently began taking medications or attending counseling, it may take time for them to start to feel better.
Just as an antibiotic for a strep throat takes a while to work, antidepressants may take some time to alter chemicals in the brain.
During this time, what your friend needs most is not references to fast, easy solutions, but knowing that you will b there for them through their treatment.
9. Tell Them They’re Not Weak or Defective
Those who are struggling with depression are likely to feel fragile or that there is something wrong with them. While depression is an illness, those who live with it may feel that it’s a character drawback.
Reassure your friend that depression is an illness provoked by a biochemical imbalance in the brain, and it does not imply that they are weak. It takes a great deal of courage to fight back, so they are probably much stronger than they think they are.
10. Emphasize That There’s Hope
While you are trying to talk with a depressed friend, and reminding them that they have a real illness, you can also reassure them that there is hope, because, like any other medical illness, depression is treatable. Through the use of medications and therapy, your friend has a very good chance of returning to feeling normal again.
Support — both social support and professional — is important. Following up with your loved ones, especially if they’ve shown signs of depression or suicidal thinking, is just one way we can help each other.
Finally, the risk of suicide is high in those living with depression. No matter what you say or what you do to help your friend, they may still experience suicidal thoughts and feelings. Make sure to be on theUse lookout for warning signs of suicide and use these 10 ways to help you how to talk with a depressed friend.
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