What To Say When Someone Is Depressed Or Anxious
You could start the conversation by asking questions such as: It seems like things have been hard for you lately. Whats on your mind? and: What can I do to help?
Something Ive learnt is to ask sincere, open-ended questions like, How does this feel? So the other person can feel supported, comforted and safe, rather than being told what to do. ayrc_1904
When you want to bring up a sensitive issue with a friend, try to choose a time and place when youre both comfortable, relaxed and theres some privacy. Dont push them if they dont want to talk, and be there for them if they become upset. You might not have an answer or a solution, but just being there to listen can be super helpful.
It might be difficult for your friend to accept your help continue to check in with them and let them know that you care about them, and that youre there for them if they need you.
What Should I Do If My Friend Has Suicidal Thoughts
Self-injury and suicide are real outcomes stemming from depression, so knowing when to recognize the signs could be the difference between life and death. Pay attention to the following signs that could indicate your friend is having suicidal thoughts.
- Purchasing a weapon when you know theyre in a bad place
- Joking about death or dying
- Personality changes or frequent mood swings
- Partaking in risky or dangerous behavior
- Increased substance or alcohol abuse
- Giving away treasured possessions or getting rid of their belongings
- Saying goodbye with more feeling than youre used to them expressing
- Pushing people away and wanting to be left alone
If you believe your friend is considering suicide, you should urge them to immediately seek help from their therapist. Tell them youll call for them if theyd like. They can also text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 273-8255.
If youre concerned, you should take your friend to the emergency room. If possible, remain next to them until theyre feeling better and the thoughts of suicide dissipate. Do your best to ensure they can access alcohol, drugs, or weapons in the event they try to take their own life. Your concern may cause you to avoid bringing up the topic or encourage suicidal thoughts, but its helpful to talk about it.
What Should I Do If I Notice These Signs
If you notice these things before your friend is diagnosed, its better to first tell a parent or school counselor, Hamilton advised. People like me call the right people to intervene and make sure kids stay safe, she said. While it may not always seem like it, school counselors are trustworthy and will do what they can to keep students protected.
Dr. Pearson warned that your friend may not want you to tell anyone. She said that perhaps your friend is saying no nothings wrong or dont get involved. She acknowledged this can be difficult because you want to respect your friend. But, she advised, if it really is of concern to you, it is important to tell someone that you trust.
You do want to share it with somebody who would be able to help your friend get the resources that he/she/they might need so that the depression doesnt get deeper, she said.
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Why Depression Can Scare Friends Away
Although depression is not contagious, it can feel like it is. Gail Saltz, MD, psychiatrist, and bestselling author of Becoming Real: Defeating the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back explains, Identification and empathy can be great qualities in a friend but can also make dealing with someone who is depressed very difficult. Some people over-identify with a depressed friend and this can make them feel drawn into a depressive state of their own. This fear of becoming depressed makes them anxious and causes them to pull away even though they know their depressed friend needs them.
Depression is a mental illness and like other illness, there is not a set timeline or magic formula to cure the patient. Friends may find it difficult to see their friend in so much pain. This uncomfortable feeling can lead to frustration and a misguided belief that the depressed person isnt trying to get better.
From there, the friend may think, If my support was helping, my friend wouldnt still be depressed and this leads them to give up on the friendship completely.
Instead Say: Im Worried About You Are You Getting Help With This
The difference in these phrases may seem subtle, but the idea is to focus on how you feel about your friend instead of labeling or unintentionally judging their experience.
Starting with a question also helps you learn more about your friends experience. Maybe theyre already speaking to a therapist, loved ones or spiritual figures or maybe they are cut off from support. Either way, its important to ask instead of assuming you know how your friend is doing or what is best for them.
If your friend wants to see a mental health expert, you can offer to research nearby or telehealth therapists or figure out insurance. Its equally important to avoid pressuring or harassing your friend to seek help if they arent ready or interested, as this can cause more harm than good though there is one critical exception.
In general, you always want to take someones lead and value their autonomy and privacy. If someone is so depressed they are suicidal, however, thats a problem and they need help, says Dr. Laurel Pellegrino, a psychiatrist who sees patients at UW Medical Center Roosevelt.
If your friend starts talking about death or suicide, gives away their belongings or exhibits other warning signs, seek support for you friend. You can call a suicide prevention line with them or call emergency services and ask for a welfare check. In an emergency, call 911.
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The Importance Of Self
Its easy to get caught up in a friends problems, but theres a fine line between being a supportive pal and it going too far. If youve become parentified, as Dr. Macchia says, or feel like youre a therapist, it may have crossed a line it can feel a crushing amount of responsibility.
On one hand is concern and worry and sadness about whats going on in your friends life, says Dr. Macchia, but also there can be an impact in terms of taking on another persons symptoms as well. You might find yourself adopting some of their feelings, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Whether you are the sounding board for some serious stuff or are just on the receiving end of a lot of drama, it can be wearing, so its important to make time for self-care. If you are feeling symptoms of anxiety, depression, are withdrawing from activities you usually enjoy, or are thinking of harming yourself, its worth seeking professional help. You can speak confidentially about whats going on and your clinician can help guide you and share helpful coping skills. Talking to your parents can also be helpful.
Most importantly, Dr. Macchia advises teens to turn your attention to things that bring you joy. She says if you love dancing, then keep dancing. Things like yoga, going for a run, getting a massage, or even shopping are all contenders for self-care whatever makes you happy.
Do I Need Health Insurance To Receive This Service
The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.
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How Am I Supposed To Be There For Them
In my case, my friend leaned heavily on me for support. After both of us lost a lot of friends because of COVID-19, I was really her only close confidant. I like to think that my presence was vital in her getting through that time period. And while it took some adjusting, it became pretty natural to add an extra layer of effort to the friendship. I found that simple things like calling her up at random were very helpful. Keep in mind that not every valuable conversation has to be about depression! Sometimes just being there is good enough, which sounds cheesy, but is very true. Letting them know that you are hearing them can make all the difference.
Hamilton said its also necessary to remind your friend how glad you are that theyre here with you. While that could involve saying how much you love and care for them, I found it more comfortable and casual to drop little hints of appreciation or compliments to my friend. Essentially, you just need to hype them up when they need it.
Hamilton said this helps because the adolescent teen brain has not fully developed. The ability to see into the future isnt quite there yet, so teenagers think that its not going to get better, she said.
So if a friend is going through a rough patch, its really crucial to tell them that everything will work itself out.
How Involved Should I Get What If I Start To Feel Overwhelmed
Helping a friend whos going through something difficult, especially when it involves serious or intense feelings, can be exhausting. Its important to know your own limits. If you fall apart, you wont be able to help your friend.
- Take care of yourself. Indulging in self-care doesnt mean youre a bad friend. If you feel like you need to take a step back, communicate that to your friend. Put yourself first and make sure you are okay in order to continue to help and support your friend.
- Keep your day-to-day consistent. Dont let your friends mental health dramatically impact or change your routine or the way you interact with your friend. If you start acting differently around them, it could discourage them from seeking help and it will likely wear on you in ways that negatively affect your friendship.
- Be honest about being in over your head. Recognize when you went too far and set a boundary.
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What You Can Do
It is important to listen well and avoid defensive language. The objective is not to fix their problems or tell them what to do. Dr. Leaf explains, You are not giving your friend a solution to all their issues rather you are listening to help them process their pain and to not feel alone and out of control.
Try to see things from your friends perspective and show true concern for their suffering. Dr. Leaf says, This doesnt mean that you fully comprehend what they are going through and we should never presume to rather, it’s your compassion that validates their experiences by acknowledging that their pain is real. Doing this actually changes the resilience in the brain , which can help that person see their problems in a new light and start sorting through their issues.
Sometimes your friend may not want to talk and thats okay too. Dr. Saltz says, They may just want you to be there and sit quietly with them. Or offer to help them make an appointment for therapy and/or drive them to their appointments.
Depression Can Make People Withdraw
It may feel like the depressed friend is pulling away from the friendship. But this is usually a symptom of the depression itself. In his 2017 Ted Talk, comedian, and storyteller Bill Bernat spoke about his own clinical depression and said, Depression doesnt diminish a persons desire to connect with other people, just their ability.¹
A person who is depressed may feel unworthy of friendship. Dr. Saltz says, They may say, no one would want to be with me or ‘I have no energy to engage in conversation but that is the chemical depression talking.”
Depression may cause a person to push away the friends that are trying to be supportive. Again, this is most likely the depression talking and not the friends actual feelings. Caroline Leaf, a clinical psychologist explains, People can be difficult when they are depressed, but we should not take this personally, which often happens when one friend is depressed and tends to lash out at the other friend. This person may not be aware that what they are doing is wrong, or what is going on inside them, or they may not even care,” she says. “Or they may even be asking for help, but in a really roundabout and confusing way.
What Shouldnt I Do When Helping My Friend
Being a supportive friend can have many definitions but there are some things to avoid:
- Dont take their behavior or comments personally.
- Dont give ultimatums. For example, dont say If you dont stop hurting yourself, I wont be friends with you anymore.
- Dont tease or share private information in group settings or group chats. Respect your friends feelings.
- Dont get frustrated if your friend doesnt have the same perspective as you about the situation.
- Dont shame, blame, or guilt your friend for their feelings or actions. Avoid accusing statements with you instead use I. For example dont say You are being irresponsible and reckless, rather say Im concerned that you might hurt yourself and that makes me worry since I care about you.
- Dont engage in activities that will likely make things worse such as using alcohol or other drugs to distract from negative feelings.
- Dont give up. Keeping a positive attitude will help your friend stay strong and provide them strength to be healthy and get better.
There Are A Number Of Things You Can Do
- Im worried because Ive noticed youve been crying a lot lately.
- Im concerned because it seems that you are feeling angry and unhappy these days.
- Im sad because you dont have much energy to do the things you used to enjoy doing, like hanging out with your friends.
- I worry about your safety when you . . .
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Though just listen seems like easy advice, it can be hard to bear witness to your friends problems. Listening may take a long time, or go on for several sessions, says Dr. Tessina. Your friend has probably not felt safe to talk about it before this, so it’s bottled up. You may need to listen to similar stories over and over. Sometimes you might think, Thats not really a big deal. But youre not there to judge their problems. Simply being open to their emotions can greatly ease their pain and help them out of their darker feelings even faster.
5. Just sitting is OK. If you usually make big plans for a night out with a friend whos going through depression, you might want to rethink your approach, at least for the time being. Go to visit without any expectations of being entertained, says Laurel Steinberg, PhD, New York-based relationship therapist. Sometimes just sitting next to someone and watching a movie can help to remind them that they are worthy of having someone go out of their way for them.
You dont need to keep your friend busy and definitely dont expect them to pull out a party platter and play charades. But by being physically present, even just on the couch, youre helping them heal.
So, be that friend who takes the lead role and gets you both moving! says Dr. Cook. Baby steps are totally fine. Even if you can take a quick walk together, that added activity will help.
How Do You Actually Help Someone With Depression While Remaining Calm And Grounded Yourself What Would A Therapist Advise
Girl with the Green FaceGirl with the Green FaceGirl with the Green Face
Ive started cutting my wrists, my friend said on the phone one night. Im not eating. I dont want to be alive. Wed had many phone calls about her depression at this point her parents knew, I had talked for hours on the phone with her childhood friend to compare notes, and she was on medication and seeing a therapist. We had been through so much together, but on this one particular call, I didnt know what else to tell her. Thats not good, and I dont want you to do that, is all I could think to say, and I felt a void in my lungs as if all the air had been sucked out of my chest. Im so sorry, I want you to get better. I left for college a few weeks later and found myself texting rather than calling her back, waiting days and then weeks to respond to her texts so that our friendship slowly dissolved. We were, by the time she survived a suicide attempt, out of touch except for birthdays: She always remembered mine. I always forgot hers.
What follows is an exhaustive guide with evidence-based strategies and word-for-word scripts sourced from depression experts: things you can say and do if someone tells you theyre struggling or that they want to hurt themselves.
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