What to Say and Do to Someone with Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses around the world. It can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, or social status. People with depression may feel isolated and alone, even when surrounded by friends and family. Depression can also affect a person’s motivation and self-esteem, making it hard for them to seek help or interact with others.

If you have a loved one with depression, it’s essential to know how to communicate with them in a way that’s helpful and supportive. Here are some tips on what to say and do to someone with depression:

1. Listen attentively, without judgment

One of the most important things you can do for someone with depression is to listen to them. Let them know that you hear them and understand how they are feeling. Listening is a powerful tool that can help reduce feelings of isolation and promote healing.

When listening, avoid giving unsolicited advice or opinions. Instead, ask open-ended questions and allow the person to express themselves. When someone with depression feels heard and understood, it can help them feel that they are not alone and may inspire them to seek further assistance.

2. Be supportive and offer encouragement

It’s essential to let your loved one with depression know that you support them. Encourage them to seek professional help and offer to accompany them to their appointments. Offer words of encouragement, such as “I believe in you” or “I am here for you.”

Be mindful that someone with depression may not respond with enthusiasm or interest to your suggestions initially. Depressed individuals may have a reduced interest in activities that they once enjoyed. It might be a sign of depression or exhaustion, so try not to take it personally. Continue to offer your support and understand that the process of healing from depression can be slow.

3. Educate yourself about depression

Depression can be a complex illness. Educating yourself about the symptoms and available treatments can help you understand what your loved one with depression may be going through. You can research online, read books about depression, or even talk to professionals about how to support your friend or loved one.

4. Avoid making assumptions;

It’s essential to avoid making assumptions about how someone with depression feels or what they are experiencing. Instead, ask open-ended questions and allow the person to express themselves.

Avoid judging the person, and don’t take their mood personally. Understand that depression is an illness. Thus, it is essential to focus on supporting and encouraging them.

5. Offer practical help

Offering practical help, such as running errands, cleaning, cooking, or giving a ride to appointments, can be valuable. These tasks can be challenging for someone with depression, so offering to help can be a significant support.

You could also consider offering to attend a regular exercise class, engaging in hobbies together, or going for a walk. Regular exercise and participating in enjoyable activities have been shown to improve depression symptoms.

6. Know when to seek professional help

It’s essential to be aware of when your loved one needs professional assistance. Professional help is crucial for managing depression, and it’s not something they should handle alone.

If your loved one is living with severe depression, contemplating suicide, or their symptoms are starting to impact their daily functioning, it is time to seek professional help. Encourage them to talk to a doctor, therapist, or counselor. You could also consult with a doctor, therapist, or counselor on their behalf, especially if they are hesitant to do so.

7. Take care of yourself

Taking care of someone with depression can be emotionally demanding. It’s essential to take care of yourself and seek support when you need it.

You could connect with others who have experience supporting someone with depression, join online support groups or consider therapy yourself. Caring for yourself allows you to be a better support to your loved one and ensures that you do not experience mental and emotional burnout.

Conclusion

Depression is a common mental illness that can take a toll on the person living with it, as well as the people close to them. Communication is essential in helping your loved one navigate through their illness. Listening attentively, being supportive, offering practical help, seeking professional help when needed, and taking care of yourself can make a difference. Supporting your loved one through their depression journey can be a challenging, yet rewarding process for both you and your loved one.

FAQs

1. What are some things to say to someone with depression?

Some things you can say to someone with depression include:

  • “I am here for you.”
  • “I care about you.”
  • “What can I do to help?”
  • “You are not alone.”

2. What are some things to avoid saying to someone with depression?

Avoid saying things like:

  • “Just snap out of it.”
  • “It’s all in your head.”
  • “You’re being dramatic.”
  • “Everyone gets sad sometimes.”

3. How can I support someone with depression?

Some ways to support someone with depression include:

  • Listening without judgement
  • Encouraging them to seek professional help
  • Offering to accompany them to therapy appointments
  • Doing activities together that they enjoy

References

1. Cuijpers, P., van Straten, A., & Warmerdam, L. (2007). Behavioral activation treatments of depression: A meta-analysis. Clinical psychology review, 27(3), 318-326. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2006.11.001

2. O’Connor, M. J., Brennan, J., Lawlor, E., & O’Neill, A. (2020). Reducing depression stigma: The role of mental health literacy, empathy, and perceived social norms. Journal of Mental Health, 1-9. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/09638237.2020.1834254

3. Verkuyten, M., & Soenens, B. (2019). Depressive symptoms among minority group members: The role of autonomy-supportive parenting, cultural identity, and discrimination. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48(5), 940-951. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01002-9