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Supporting Someone With Depression

Sometimes it can be difficult when it comes to helping supporting someone with depression, especially if that person is someone you are close with, such as a family member, best friend or partner. Therefore it is important to offer advice and tips to those who are in that situation. When someone you know tells you that they are suffering from depression, it can be difficult to understand at first and may take some time to sink in... this is okay! It is also okay to not know what to do to help them, especially if you have never experienced anything like this before. 

So I decided to write this post in order to offer helpful tips and advice for supporting someone who has depression. 

We asked people with experience of looking after someone with depression, what advice they would give to others who are in the same position: The following responses were sent to us anonymously. 

'Let them know that you are always there for them'

'If someone builds up the courage and the confidence to tell you that they are suffering from depression, do not just tell them that they will be okay or that it will all blow over soon. Instead, hug them, make them a drink or a snack, sit with them and listen to them! You could also ask them what they would like you to do to help them'

'It is okay to ask them if they are okay, but try not to smother them and ask them all of the time'

'You should not treat them differently because of their illness, you should make sure to treat them like you would treat anybody else! Make sure to still invite them to place (even if they rarely accept the invitation)' 

'Helping someone with depression is not an easy thing to do, sometimes you may feel as though your efforts are not making a difference, that the person is still depressed so you must not be helping... please remember that depression is an illness, no matter how hard you try, you cannot cure someone of that. But the small things really do help, even if it is just for a little while, so do not give up on us. We appreciate the efforts that you put in.' 

My input:

It is important to let them know that you do not think of them any differently because of their mental health. Let them know that you are there for them and that you are willing to listen to them whenever they need you. It is also important to make sure that they know they are not alone, that other people suffer too and that their mental illness does not change who they are as a person! 

Remember that simple acts of kindness can go a long way, such as making them a cup of tea, buying them something you know they like (flowers, a book, chocolates etc), watching a movie with them, listening to them, phoning them or texting them just to check up on them and show that you care. All of these things are enough to make a bad day that little bit better.

Also, remember that you're important too. Do not put all of your energy and time into making sure that your loved one is okay... you need to make sure to look after yourself too! Supporting someone who has depression is not always easy, it can be tiring and can sometimes drag you down too, so it is important to take some time out for you! 

Here Is A List Of Things That You Can Do When Supporting Someone Who Has Depression:

  • Listen to them
  • Give them as much time as they need to explain how they are feeling, this is not always easy for them to do and it can be very difficult to put into words
  • Tell them that you are there for them 
  • Ask them if they need anything, a drink, snacks, anything from the shops etc - sometimes tasks that are easy for you and me are very daunting for people who are suffering from depression, so a little bit of help goes a long way
  • Tell them that they are not alone, offer to go with them to doctors appointments and support groups 
  • Try not to leave them out of events, they may not say yes to attending events very often, but it is still nice to be asked! If they do attend, do not leave them on their own (especially if they are in unfamiliar surroundings), it is important that they do not feel alone/lonely, this makes the thought of future events less stressful too!
  • They may find keeping in touch with people difficult, so make sure to phone them, text them, or visit them as often as you can! It is great to have some form of socialisation and it also nice to know that someone is thinking about you!
  • Sometimes they may not want to talk, they may simply need some company! This could be watching TV together, or even sitting in silence, each doing your own thing... or a hug! It is nice to feel loved and safe and simply having someone in the same room with you can make a huge difference to how you feel. Knowing that they are there if you need them. 
  • Buy them something that you know they like, this does not have to be a huge expensive gift, it could simply be a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers or even a coffee from their favourite coffee shop! Little gestures make a big difference, it is nice to be treated from time to time.
  • Know that you cannot cure them of their illness, but you can help them through it. If you think that you can cure them, you will start to feel as though all of your efforts are not making any difference, because they are still depressed... this is not the case! Just because you cannot cure them does not mean that you cannot help them. 
  • You do not have to walk on eggshells around them, so try not to treat them any differently than you would treat anybody else.

Here Is A List Of Things That You Should Avoid Doing When Supporting Someone With Depression:

  • Avoid saying things such as 'you have nothing to be depressed about', 'You will be alright in a few days', 'It is probably just a phase' etc. Phrases like this can cause the individual to bottle away their feelings, as they feel as though no one understands them. Even though you may not understand why they feel the way that they do, it is important not to disregard them. Instead, try doing some extra research around depression, talk to them about it, ask them questions so that they know that you are interested and that you want to be able to understand them better so that you can help them.
  • Do not stop inviting them to place just because 'they never say yes anyway'... it is still nice to be asked and nice to have been thought of.
  • Do not start treating them as if they are overly sensitive, or smothering them as if they are a child. They are no different to you! You wouldn't treat someone with a broken leg any differently to a person without one, so why treat someone with a mental illness differently?
  • Do not compare their depression to sad events that have happened in your own life... there is a difference between feeling sad every now and again due to certain situations or events and being diagnosed with depression. 
  • Do not tell them they are overreacting. They cannot help the way that they feel, they have an illness that they have very little control over.
  • Do not tell them to be quiet, or tell them not to talk about their feelings, it is important for them to express themselves, bottling up their emotions will only make matters worse. You may have heard them talk about the same thing a million times, but this may be a coping mechanism for them, so please do not shut them out. 

I hope this short post has been useful for you, if you would like to talk to us more about supporting someone through a mental illness, please do not hesitate to contact us, either via social media or through our Submit Page!