Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions in America today. Some people struggle with depression periodically or even seasonally, with symptoms worsening in the winter months. Others suffer from chronic depression that lingers and potentially deepens over time.
If a friend or loved one is living with depression, it can be difficult to know how to help. But there are many things you can do to help a friend with depression. You are not able to solve their issue or be their everything. Yet you can be a crucial source of support. Anyone can learn how to help a friend with depression with a little patience and knowledge.
How to Help a Friend with Depression
The more you know about depression and how it affects people, the better you will be able to help a friend with depression. Here are four ways you can support someone who is struggling with depression.
Learn the Symptoms
Understanding depression begins with its symptoms. These may vary from person to person and may differ in intensity. Nonetheless, people with depression tend to display the following symptoms in varying degrees:
- Pervasive sadness, emptiness, loneliness, or hopelessness
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities that previously brought enjoyment
- Weight loss or gain
- Low self-worth or self-esteem
- Suicidal thoughts
Many people with depression have their lives extremely impacted by these symptoms. They may experience a decline in performance at school or work. Relationships might be strained. Social withdrawal often comes with depression, which in turn can worsen other symptoms like loneliness or sadness.
Connect Them with Depression Treatment
One of the best ways you can support a friend with depression is to urge them to seek treatment. Depression is treatable yet far too many people avoid seeing a doctor for their depression. Medication and therapy, often in combination, are effective at treating depression. For more severe cases, mental health treatment providers like Oceanfront Recovery offer more targeted, comprehensive services for depression, including inpatient treatment.
Unless your friend is suicidal or so depressed that they cannot get out of bed at all, it’s likely best to start small. Encourage them to broach the subject with their general practitioner. For many people, taking a low-dose antidepressant works wonders for symptom relief. If more is needed, that’s totally fine. Remind your friend that you are there for them, every step of the way.
Watch for Warning Signs of Worsening Depression
Look out for if your friend’s depression is worsening. Having depression doesn’t mean someone will have suicidal thoughts or even try to act on them. But if you notice your friend taking a turn for the worse, intervention becomes even more important.
As mentioned earlier, you are not solely responsible for your loved one’s mental health outcomes. Yet your ongoing support is key. First, if they have started treatment, encourage them to stay consistent in taking their medications or attending therapy sessions. Second, be a good listener. Giving them space to talk about their experience is important. Refrain from judgment and do not use phrases that indicate they could feel better if they simply tried harder. Rather, offer positive reinforcement.
Third, help them reduce stress in their life. Support them in creating a routine that helps them feel more in control and capable of navigating life. Without becoming their caretaker, you might offer to help with household chores on occasion or help them cook and share a healthy meal. And lastly, spend social time with them. Depression may cause them to withdraw but as a trusted friend, you can interrupt that withdrawal.
Call Oceanfront Recovery Today
Does someone you know need depression treatment? Have you tried to help a friend with depression and are feeling overwhelmed by their symptoms? Oceanfront Recovery is here to help. Contact us at 877.296.7477 to learn more about depression treatment options and resources that you can share with a friend.