If you have a friend or family member that is suffering from depression, it can be difficult to know what to say.
After all, we all just want to help and provide comfort. But all too often, it can be awkward. Or, we could accidentally come off as hurtful.
If someone you love has shared that they have depression, here are a few things that you could say that might help.
“How Can I Help?”
Struggling with depression often means more than just experiencing sadness. During a depressive episode, it can be incredibly difficult to keep up with responsibilities. That means that everyday chores, errands, and even just cooking tend to pile up.
While you might not be able to lift that depression fog for your loved one, you can ease the stress a bit by offering to handle some of their to-do list: help them cook a meal, take some clothes to the laundromat, or sweep up a little bit so things aren’t as overwhelming.
“I Hear You”
It’s easy to jump in with advice. You’re just trying to be helpful, right? But rather than offering up advice or trying to relate with a similar story, it can often be most helpful just to let someone know you’re listening.
People experiencing mental health symptoms can feel unheard or lost. They may feel that no one is really listening to how they feel, or that they’re boring people with their story.
Try to resist the urge to “fix” the problem immediately or say that you know how they feel. Instead, help your friend or relative feel validated just by letting them know you’re all ears.
A common symptom of depression is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness or futility. Someone with depression might feel like what they’re doing is pointless. They might also lack motivation, connection, and direction.
Make sure that the person in your life with depression knows that they matter to you and that their life has meaning.
“You Are Strong”
People with depression are sometimes made to feel that they are weak or that something is wrong with them. They’re struggling with something they can’t control.
In truth, people struggling with disorders like depression are strong and resilient. Let your loved one know that you see them as a strong person, especially for “coming out” and being open about what they’re dealing with.
“Have You Talked To Your Therapist or Doctor?”
You shouldn’t push someone with depression beyond their limits, but suggesting therapy or medication in a gentle way can be a good idea.
Consider asking your loved one if they have spoken to their regular physician — or their existing counselor or therapist, if they already have one — about their feelings and what they are dealing with.
A qualified professional is always the best person to help with mental health. They are equipped with the proper training, and can prescribe antidepressants or other treatments.