What To Do If Your Friend Has Suicidal Thoughts
If you are concerned your friend may harm themselves,dont dismiss your gut. Instead:
- Pay attentionto anything said about suicide, other forms of self-harm or a world thatdoesnt include them.
- Keep the lines of communication openso they know they can talk to you when they have these feelings.
- Encourage themto get professional help.
That help may include outpatient therapy and psychotropic medications prescribed by their primary care doctor or a psychiatrist. If you think your friend is in immediate danger, call 911 or take your friend to the nearest emergency department.
Remember: Your friends situation is not hopeless. Like other illnesses, depression can be treated with the right medical help and the support of friends like you.
How To Help A Child With Depression
It can also be difficult to distinguish between depression and teenagers tendency to withdraw from parents. Sometimes theyre in that teenager mode where they don’t want to talk to their parents, but they’re fine with their friends, Navuluri says. Other times, they might be showing more general signs of withdrawing.
If youre worried about your child whatever their age take them to a primary care doctor. Let the doctor know ahead of time that youre noticing your child withdrawing or losing interest in activities, she recommends. That way, you wont make your child uncomfortable by bringing it up at the appointment.
When you arrive, its usually best not to enter the exam room. Kids often feel freer to discuss problems when parents arent present, Navuluri explains. If the doctor does think depression may be an issue, they can recommend psychiatric care or counseling.
Be There For Them During Treatment
When it comes to health issues, everyone wants a quick fix. Thats unlikely with depression.
Your friend may lose motivation and feel like their therapy, their medication, or both, arent worth bothering with anymore. It can feel really challenging to find the energy to maintain treatment.
Remind them that they should try to keep up their treatment, but support their wishes. If they truly dont click with their therapist, or the side effects of the medication have become too much, help them learn about different options.
In both cases, encourage and support your friend during the times they may want to cease all treatment, as this is a common experience for many people struggling with depression. Many types of therapy and medication regimens require ongoing sessions.
Finding a new therapist or discussing a different dosage of meds are much better than stopping completely and suddenly.
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How To Talk To Someone About Depression
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to someone about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries the person will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive.
If you dont know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You dont have to try to fix your friend or family member you just have to be a good listener. Often, the simple act of talking face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about their feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment.
Dont expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.
Bring Up Your Concerns With Your Loved One
If you notice signs of depression in your loved one, its important to calmly share your concerns in a way thats nonjudgmental, says Ole Thienhaus, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. Its also crucial to give your loved one space to talk about what theyre feeling.
Listening is the most important part of beginning to help, Dr. Thienhaus says.
To get them talking, you may start by sharing the changes youve observed recently that worry you, Thienhaus says. When you do this, dont be critical just state the facts as you see them in a neutral way and pause often to give them room to respond to what you have to say.
Avoid any suggestion that they have no reason to feel so sad, Thienhaus adds. This means not saying things like, Look at all the good things in your life or Look at how much worse off so-and-so is, but she doesnt let her problems get her down.
Why is this harmful? Many people with depression already believe they should be able to snap out of it or should be mentally strong, Thames says, feelings that can stand in their way of seeking treatment for depression.
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Look For Signs That Treatment Is Working
There are lots of little ways to tell when treatment works it will be clear in the ways that your loved one looks and acts, says Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of outpatient clinical services at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
As they improve, someone with depression may start making better eye contact with you instead of looking down to avoid eye contact due to feeling vulnerable or anxious. Other signs of improvement, according to Dr. Halaris, include:
- Smiling occasionally and having more relaxed instead of tense facial features
- Having a calmer demeanor
- Isolating less and interacting with people more
- Eating and sleeping better
Expose Yourself To Funny And Lighthearted Entertainment
It may seem too simple, but even watching a funny movie or reading a book more suited to a lazy Sunday than a classroom discussion can help you combat depression by making you smile and laugh, pulling you out of grief for a short while.
If you’re suffering from depression and are still in the process of getting professional help, trying these different self-help techniques can lessen your symptoms and help you recover a sense of normalcy in your life. However, it is best to note that these are meant to be temporary and supplementary tips for a professional treatment plan.
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Tend To Your Social Life
When you’re depressed, there’s no reason to go it aloneand all sorts of reasons to reach out to friends and family. Make plans with loved ones and keep those dates. Join a club or sign up for a group activity such as a local dodgeball league, for example, or a French class.
Other things you might try:
- Join a support group. Talking to other people who are facing the same experiences and challenges can be informative and helpful.
- Schedule activities. Having routines can be helpful when you are going through depression. Create a daily schedule that includes spending time with others. You are more likely to stick to it if its a scheduled event.
- Volunteer.Joining a cause that you care about is a great way to meet new people and expand your social circle.
The problem is that depression often causes people to withdraw, which only further exacerbates feelings of isolation and loneliness. Even when you don’t feel like going out or being social, try reaching out in whatever way is most comfortable for you. Enlist a few of your closes loved ones who understand what you are experiencing.
Doing the things you used to do might not bring you quite the same enjoyment, but getting out of the house and spending time with people who care about you can help you feel better.
Taking Care Of Yourself
Theres a natural impulse to want to fix the problems of people we care about, but you cant control someone elses depression. You can, however, control how well you take care of yourself. Its just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority.
Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. You wont do your friend or family member any good if you collapse under the pressure of trying to help. When your own needs are taken care of, youll have the energy you need to lend a helping hand.
Speak up for yourself. You may be hesitant to speak out when the depressed person in your life upsets you or lets you down. However, honest communication will actually help the relationship in the long run. If youre suffering in silence and letting resentment build, your loved one will pick up on these negative emotions and feel even worse. Gently talk about how youre feeling before pent-up emotions make it too hard to communicate with sensitivity.
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Help Someone Who Is Anxious To Temper Their Thinking
Youll be a more useful support person if you educate yourself about cognitive-behavioral models of anxiety, which you can do by reading or attending a therapy session with your loved one. But, in lieu of that, you might try using some techniques that can be helpful to people suffering from anxiety.
Typically, anxious people have a natural bias towards thinking about worst-case scenarios. To help them get some perspective on this, you can use a cognitive therapy technique where you ask them to consider three questions:
- Whats the worst that could happen?
- Whats the best that could happen?
- Whats most realistic or likely?
So, if your loved one is anxious that they were supposed to hear from their parents hours ago but havent, you can suggest they consider the worst, best, and most likely explanations for the lack of contact.
Take care not to overly reassure your loved one that their fears wont come to pass. Its more useful to emphasize their coping ability. For example, if theyre worried about having a panic attack on a plane, you could say, That would be extremely unpleasant and scary, but youd deal with it. And, if your loved one is feeling anxious that someone else is angry with them or disappointed in them, its often useful to remind them that you can only ever choose your own actions and not completely control other peoples responses.
Make Them Smile Because Laughter Helps And Heals
As I mentioned in my post “10 Things I Do Every Day to Beat Depression,” research says that laughing is one of the best things we can do for our health. Humor can help us heal from a number of illnesses. When I was hospitalized for severe depression in 2005, one of the psychiatric nurses on duty decided that one session of group therapy would consist of watching a comedian poke fun at depression. For an hour, we all exchanged glances as if to say Is it okay to laugh? The effect was surprisingly powerful. Whenever the black dog has gotten a hold of a friend, I try to make her laugh, because in laughing, some of her fear and panic disappear.
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Offer To Help With Everyday Tasks
With depression, day-to-day tasks can feel overwhelming. Things like laundry, grocery shopping, or paying bills can begin to pile up, making it hard to know where to start.
Your friend may appreciate an offer of help, but they also might not be able to clearly say what they need help with.
So, instead of saying Let me know if theres anything I can do, consider saying, What do you most need help with today?
If you notice their refrigerator is empty, say Can I take you grocery shopping, or pick up what you need if you write me a list? or Lets go get some groceries and cook dinner together.
If your friend is behind on dishes, laundry, or other household chores, offer to come over, put some music on, and tackle a specific task together. Simply having company can make the work seem less daunting.
The Most Famous Depression Quotes
Depressed means you need deep rest from the character youve been playing in the world. Jim Carrey
Make peace with your past so it wont destroy your present. Paulo Coelho
Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create. Oprah Winfrey
With depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that youre not alone. Dwayne Johnson
Real change will come about not as a result of prayer, but of using intelligence and taking action. 14th Dalai Lama
I have never felt so much pain in my life. It was tough for me to even get out of bed and I had days when I couldnt walk, let alone write a rhyme. Eminem
You have to take responsibility for your own happiness. Reese Witherspoon
You need to know that part of being strong and tough is having the courage to ask for help when you need it. You must not silently suffer. You are all in this together. And, if I may speak personally, we are all in this together because asking for help was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. You will me continually amazed how life changes for the better. Prince Harry
One of the best things that helps depression is work, and socialising with other people and connecting. Because when you work you find purpose. Trevor Noah
Therapy gives you another perspective when you are so lost in your own spiral, it helps. Jon Hamm
I dont feel very much like Pooh today. Winnie the Pooh
You cant stop the future. You cant rewind the past. Hannah
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Offer Support But Dont Take Over
Avoidance is a core feature of anxiety, so sometimes we may feel pulled to help out by doing things for our avoidant loved ones and inadvertently feed their avoidance. For instance, if your anxious roommate finds making phone calls incredibly stressful and you end up doing this for them, they never push through their avoidance.
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A good general principle to keep in mind is that support means helping someone to help themselves, not doing things for them, which includes virtually anything that stops short of actually doing it yourself. For example, you might offer to attend a first therapy session with your loved one if they set up the appointment. Or, if theyre not sure how to choose a therapist, you might brainstorm ways of doing that, but let them choose.
An exception might be when someones anxiety is accompanied by severe depression. If they cant get themselves out of bed, they may be so shut down that they temporarily need people to do whatever is needed to help them stay alive. Also, sometimes loved ones are so gripped by an anxiety disorder that theyre in pure survival mode and need more hands-on help to get things done. In less extreme circumstances, however, its best to offer support without taking over or overdoing the reassurance.
Remember Your Physical Health
While matters of physical fitness may not feel important, keeping up with things like a nutritious diet or getting enough sleep at night can help you on your journey to figure out how to beat depression. Issues with physical health can add further stress and anxiety that worsen depression. So, take the time to make sure you incorporate some form of exercise into your day . And, focus on consuming foods low in sugar and refined carbs and high in nutrients .
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Support Them In Continuing Therapy
On a bad day, your friend might not feel like leaving the house. Depression can zap energy and increase the desire to self-isolate.
If they say something like, I think Im going to cancel my therapy appointment, encourage them to stick with it.
You might say, Last week you said your session was really productive and you felt a lot better afterward. What if todays session helps, too?
The same goes for medication. If your friend wants to stop taking medication because of unpleasant side effects, be supportive, but encourage them to talk to their psychiatrist about switching to a different antidepressant or getting off medication entirely.
Abruptly stopping antidepressants without the supervision of a healthcare provider can have serious consequences.
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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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.