This is Part 2 of my Depression Guide. See Part 1 here: Part 1
Acknowledge that they are suffering and that they may need help. Showing them you want to help is re-assuring. Also, make them feel like they are needed and try to provide them with a space to vent when they are upset. Trust them with things that you wouldn’t tell just anyone else. This makes them feel very important to you. Depression lies to them and makes them feel like they aren’t needed by anyone. This acknowledgment that you know how bad they feel may be the little “push” they need to start talking about it, and maybe even seek help.
Acknowledge the depression
Do not pretend like it is not there or that this is not a serious condition. This is debilitating for a person. They can’t help it. This will make them feel like they are insignificant and that you don’t even take their problem seriously.
Find the cause
Try to help your friend find out what may have caused the depression. Maybe a bad break-up or a family issue, or something more personal about themselves. Ask them what you can do to help. Ask carefully and gently, and don’t get upset if they’re slow to tell you. Some people take longer than others to talk. If they do tell you a list of things you can do, then do them. Usually if they answer a question like this in full they absolutely genuinely need those things from you. What not to do is to ask that and they answer and not carry those things out. This will just send them back into a deeper state of their depression because once again, they have been let down. Especially since it would be by someone so close as their best friend, it could be very damaging.
Although you may think that the last thing your friend wants to do is talk to you about depression, you could be wrong. Sometimes a friend just needs someone to talk to. Actively listen to them without judging or giving advice. Depression is an issue that people sometimes feel they must hide, in order to maintain their usual life. Because people see it as a weakness or a cry for attention they feel like not telling anyone. This is wrong though, the depressed person would like nothing better than to feel happy again and be themselves. Either that or they are only just coming to terms with it, let alone the idea of letting other people in on it. However, from time to time, your friend may open up, or express the desire to talk to you. Sometimes they just want to vent. Don’t start spitting out possible solutions until you know the full extent of the problem. A good listener can sometimes be vastly more helpful than someone who tries to offer solutions. When this happens, be understanding and kind and willing to listen. This means a lot to them. This also should mean a lot to you because they are trusting you with something so personal that’s affecting them. Don’t interrupt, don’t try to convince them they’re wrong, don’t give advice and try not to react in horror. It can be difficult to hear about how terrible your friend feels, but remember that they’re trusting you. Value this trust, don’t break it and keep it close. Just be there to listen. That’s the number 1 thing they need right now.
Try to Understand
Every person’s story is different, and so it is impossible to completely understand. Depression is a very complex and complicated disease. So it is ok for you not to understand where they are coming from. However, keeping an open mind and putting yourself in your friend’s shoes can help you come closer to them. Once you’ve done your research on depression, you should know a lot more about the illness. Apply the symptoms and emotions to yourself, and contemplate how you would feel if this was happening to you. Call upon things your friend has done or told you, and try to understand why and what they mean. In times of need, having someone understand or try too, can be all the relief in the world.
Most importantly is to just be there for your friend. Be very genuine and don’t lie to them. Don’t tell them things and not truly mean it. Sometimes they can tell and this will hurt them greatly. This a time when they are their lowest point in life. Especially if they are a teen battling with depression. Because they are wasting away their most precious years, and this also makes them sad and guilty because they feel like they can’t just enjoy their life. Things you can do to make them know that you are there is to obviously tell them that. You could say something like “I am here for you and whenever you feel like talking I’ll always be willing to listen and to try & understand.” Sometimes, the thing they need most is just a simple hug and a “I am here for you. Everything is going to be ok.” Also let them know that you value their friendship and that you care about their life. The depression can cause them to feel worthless and not needed. They need to be re-assured that they matter to you and that you want to help them through this. Let them know that they aren’t weak or worthless because they may feel like this because of society and it’s view on this serious illness. If you honestly mean it and can do so with an open heart, offer to be there 24/7. Tell them that you welcome their phone calls at all hours. You will rarely, if ever, receive a middle of the night call. But a sincere offer sends a message of support that will be heard. If you see them in public places, make sure to say hi and notice them. Don’t pretend like everything is ok though, always remember that. Ask them how they feel today and be sure to pay attention to them from time to time because they feel alienated from people when out in the world. Do these things because they feel completely alone and isolated. This is a major side effect of depression and causes lots of suicidal thoughts and tendencies, especially in teenagers. Hug them, hold their hand, physical contact is good for people that are suffering from depression. It makes them feel better and comforted, and safe, so do those things as often as you can. Tell them that you love them and care for them. Give them a shoulder to cry on. Be there.
Patience & Force
Because depression is heavy, slow moving and unpredictable, it can frustrate and even anger those who are trying to help. Remember that depression is a complex disorder, and try to understand that the depressed person is not herself or himself right now. If your friend doesn’t seem to appreciate your efforts, or is pushing you away, don’t walk off in a temper. Give them space or give them comfort if they need it, and be there for them, no matter how much they believe you don’t need to be.
Don’t push too hard. If it makes your friend feel worse to face up to their problems, do not force them to continue. Sometimes analysing a person’s past can make them feel worse about themselves and dredge up past traumas. In this case, focus on how they feel now and how they want to be in future, and forget whatever caused them to feel depressed. Leave it in the past until they are ready to either deal with it or let it go.Be gentle. Depression can be dark, confusing and angry, but it can also be tender, hurtful and full of sensitive tears. Don’t yell or be rough-keep your voice and body language soft and don’t force your friend into anything.
Stay in contact with them. Check in. Call them just to call them. Check up on them occasionally, esp. at night when the depression is at its worst. Text them occasionally just to say you are thinking about them and ask how they feel today. This means the world to them and makes them feel like they matter and re-assures them that you care and causes them to feel more at ease. Support them and ask what you can do to help, of course. When they have severe depression, often times they will confess to you that they sometimes want to just die. But they actually don’t. Most of these happen while driving. So asking them a quick “Are you home and ok?” Will make them feel very cared for. You don’t want to be that person finding out something terrible just because you aren’t worrying about them. Maybe even give them a card or bring them lunch or take them to a movie. This means so much to someone who is depressed. You won’t believe how it will uplift their mood. It makes them feel significant.
Take care of yourself. You have to be mindful of yourself and your mind to in helping this friend. It can take a toll especially if they are very needy. If you need to take breaks then tell them that. Remember though, do not ignore them. Go have fun with other friends, and enjoy your life too. But you have to remember that depression is not them. Your friend will eventually come out of this, and become the person you’ve grown to love and have fun with. Just give them time and have patience.
I hope this helped some of you guys, I’ll be making a post with links to all the different posts related to my Guide Segment.