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 melted away. We were, by the time she tried to commit suicide, 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.
Avoid Statements Like Be Strong Don’t Cry Focus On The Positives Or Be Grateful For What You Have
In our society, sadness, tears, and depression are often associated with “weakness” or instability. Emotionality is not valued, and thus feelings associated with depression are often enveloped in choking layers of shame and anxiety. Telling someone not to feel depressed, or that they should “think positively,” will not make them feel better. In actuality, it will likely make them feel worseweak, ashamed for feeling sad, and less able to feel safe in your relationship. Make space for emotions; don’t try to limit them or contain them.
Be Honest About Your Struggle To Accept All This
Acknowledge your shortcomings, and learn to change. Very few of us are taught how to actually be supportive to the individuals in our lives living with mental illness. You have a lot to learn. We have a lot to learn. But if we dont accept this, acknowledge our failures, and change we will destroy one another.
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Help Them To Find Support
Your friend might not be aware of what professional support options are available, or they may be unsure of how to get support. Even if they know about support options, it can be daunting to see a health professional.
You can offer support by encouraging your friend to speak to a health professional or an adult they trust. You could offer to join them for the conversation if they want, or even ask if theyd like you to book the appointment if its with a professional. A GP can organise a mental health care plan for them if needed. This means that your friend will get a referral to a psychologist or other professional. Theyll also get Medicare-subsidised sessions getting help doesnt have to mean they have to fork out hundreds of dollars.
Not everyone is ready to see somebody face-to-face. You could recommend hotlines or online chat-based helplines. The ReachOut NextStep tool can also provide tailored support options so they can make their own plan. Here are some support services they could use, and some more information about getting professional support for depression and anxiety.
If theyre not able to seek help on their own, ask for their permission to talk to an adult they trust on their behalf. If they refuse, and youre still really concerned, consider talking to an adult you trust, such as a teacher, parent or school counsellor.
What Do You Need Today
Saying Call me if you need anything is well intended, but ineffective. Someone with depression finds asking for help to be difficult, especially in the very beginning. If you dont know a specific way to help someone with depression, reach out to them by asking What do you need today? and offer assistance in areas such as:
- A hug or listening ear
- Helping with chores or errands
- Time away from the kids
- An exercise partner
Sometimes those with depression cant pinpoint their needs, so look for relevant ways to help.
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Its Okay To Feel This Way
Telling someone that theyre not crazy when they feel like their life is out of control can be one of the best things you can do to comfort and show you love them. Acknowledging their pain and suffering is always a good way to start, because it shows them that youre not there to try to fix them or apply a quick get well soon Band Aid. No one will ever feel worse by hearing you recognize that theyre having a hard time. You may not understand how they feel, but by acknowledging that what theyre feeling is real and not made up can be a great comfort.
If Someone Tells You Theyre Depressed What Should You Say Next
I think its really important that you dont feel like you have to fix it, but just be curious and listen to your friends experience, says Rosen. She advises asking questions like: What has it been like for you? Are you able to function at work? How are you doing at school?These should lead into the most important question to ask: Has it ever gotten so bad that you feel like hurting yourself or you want to end things?A lot of people wrongly think that asking about suicide will give someone the idea to do it. But experts say thats not how suicide works and that its really, really important to ask about suicide directly. By not asking, you could isolate a friend even more, and cause the person to spiral even further into suicidal thoughts.
Unless youre a mental-health professional, its not worth following up with hyperspecific, nitty-gritty questions;like When did you start feeling bad? or What makes you feel worse? ;because whatever the person says will put you in a position of needing to share advice youre not qualified to give.
The next step would be trying to see if theyve actually been clinically diagnosed, says Cordero. Have they done any of the screenings? Suggest they take an online test its the same quiz theyd take in a primary-care doctors office, where people are encouraged to start seeking help for depression in order to rule out any other medical conditions.
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I Believe In You Youre Awesome
Sometimes a person has given up hope that theyll amount to anything in life. Theyve lost all belief in themselves, and feel like nothing they do is right or good enough. Their self-esteem is, in a word, shot.
Thats why it can be helpful to reaffirm that you believe in them. You believe in their ability to once again experience hope, to be the person you once were or even more. That they are still an awesome person, if even if theyre not feeling that way at the moment.
Be There For Your Friend & Yourself
Helping a friend with their mental illness can sometimes take a toll on your own mental health. Seeking help from a mental health professional can help keep your mental health intact while helping to better understand the mental health needs of your friend. Please contact Discovery Mood & Anxiety Programs if you or a loved one is in need of mental health treatment.
This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyones situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of mental health disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.
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You Dont Need To Do Anything That Makes You Uncomfortable
Feeling pressured into something, such as social situations;when youre feeling depressed can be incredibly upsetting.;You may;feel obliged to appear cheerful, which can be very difficult. Knowing these events can be avoided for the time being can help a person feel relaxed and allow them the time to focus on their own health.
What To Do If You Think A Friend Is Considering Suicide
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, help is out there. Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 for free, confidential support 24/7.
Suicide isnt inevitable. We can all help prevent suicide.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline offers you a toolkit for supporting people on social media, down to specific platforms like Facebook and Twitter. They help you determine how to identify someone in need of support and who to contact within the social media community if youre worried about their safety.
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Look On The Bright Side
Individuals struggling with depression are not oblivious to the positives in their life. It is possible to be grateful for all the good things while still experiencing feelings of sadness and despair. Your friend with depression is not choosing to ignore the silver lining in the cloud. They often see the silver lining and are feeling the weight of the cloud at the same time.
Instead of asking your friend who is struggling with depression to think of or look at the positives, ask them to explain what they are experiencing in their present moment and affirm their present feelings. Saying something like, I know this must be rough for you. Can you tell me how youre feeling? is more helpful than ignoring their current pain. Empathy is key. Instead of shying away from unpleasant emotions of your friend, be understanding of their emotions, even if you cant fully understand what they are feeling.
Say What You Have Practised
When youre ready, just go for it. Say what youve practised, and if you feel more comfortable taking your notes with you, then do so. If you get tongue-tied or shaky then dont worry. Its perfectly acceptable to tell the person that youre finding this difficult. If you find that youre becoming a bit overwhelmed, then just take a break and come back to the conversation later.
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Things To Say To Someone With Depression
Having a supportive person;to talk to;when youre feeling depressed can really help ease the symptoms a little. There are no magic words that will make someone feel better and;it can be tough to know what to say;to someone that is;suffering. In my opinion, avoiding the subject is the worst tactic. It breeds guilt within the sufferer and makes them feel like an outsider, which can end up pushing them further away.
When I feel helpless and upset its important that I feel comforted, even when I cant explain exactly what the problem is. If you know someone who deals with depression take the time to ask them if they are OK and tell them that youre there for them. Even these few simple words can make them feel less alone.
Here are;some helpful things to say to someone who is struggling. This is by no means a complete list of what to say ;its just a few things that have worked for me.
Know Your Role And Have Realistic Expectations For Yourself Within It
What would you expect from your friend if you were going through a rough time? Have similar expectations for yourself in this position. You are not their therapist, psychiatrist, or doctor. If you’re unsure as to what they expect from you, ask.
Set realistic guidelines Supporting a depressed friend can be draining to you, so make sure to be kind to yourself and acknowledge your limitations.
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Take As Long As You Need
For someone in a deep depression or even just an extremely low mood, seemingly easy tasks can feel overwhelming. Everyday things, such as;taking a shower or cooking might seem too much to deal with, especially early in the day. Many people with depression feel their mood lifts towards the end of the day, so allowing them extra time to do these tasks is a good plan.
The Risk Of Suicide Is Real
What to do in a crisis situation
If you believe your loved one is at an immediate risk for suicide, do NOT leave them alone.
In the U.S., dial 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
In other countries, call your countrys emergency services number or visit IASP to find a suicide prevention helpline.
It may be hard to believe that the person you know and love would ever consider something as drastic as suicide, but a depressed person may not see any other way out. Depression clouds judgment and distorts thinking, causing a normally rational person to believe that death is the only way to end the pain theyre feeling.
Since suicide is a very real danger when someone is depressed, its important to know the warning signs:
- Talking about suicide, dying, or harming oneself; a preoccupation with death
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or self-hate
- Acting in dangerous or self-destructive ways
- Getting affairs in order and saying goodbye
- Seeking out pills, weapons, or other lethal objects
- A sudden sense of calm after depression
If you think a friend or family member might be considering suicide, dont wait, talk to them about your concerns. Many people feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic but it is one of the best things you can do for someone who is thinking about suicide. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a persons life, so speak up if youre concerned and seek professional help immediately!
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How You Can Help
It might seem small, but just doing things together, being there and staying connected can be a big help.
Depression and anxiety are so common that its highly likely that at some point youll know someone who might be experiencing it. It might be someone in your whnau, a team-mate or someone from your community. People with depression and anxiety are more likely to get through with help and support than on their own.Being depressed and anxious can be a really lonely experience. Sometimes the most important thing is having supportive people around or checking in. Having a coffee, watching television, phoning or texting to say Hi can help a lot. When youre feeling down, knowing that people are thinking of you can really lift your spirits.Often when people are feeling bad they dont want to go out and do anything. Everything feels just too hard. So encouraging them to do something with you is a great support. It could be something small like watching funny video clips, listening to music, going for a walk or window-shopping. Think about something you both like to do. There are different things you can do, depending on who youre trying to help:
How To Recognize Signs Of Depression In A Friend
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness , more than 16 million adults in the U.S. live with clinical depression. Unfortunately, almost half of those suffering from depression never receive any form of treatment. One of the reasons why so many people do not receive treatment is that the signs of depression arent obvious in many cases.
Symptoms of depression can sometimes be confused with normal reactions to negative events. The end of a relationship, a job loss, or financial problems can take their toll on someones sense of well-being and its not unusual to be emotionally affected. In some cases, it may be up to a friend to recognize the signs of depression and guide the individual to getting the treatment they need. Doing so could prevent the situation from progressing to the point where the individual suffers major impairment.
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Texts To Send A Loved One Living With Depression
While a;text message cant cure depression, it can remind someone of their worth and let them know theyre not alone. But it can be tricky to know what to say especially if you dont understand what its really like to experience depression.
People who are depressed know that theyre not in a desirable condition, and yet they still want to be viewed as desirable, Shenell D. Evans, Ph.D., a psychologist in New York, told The Mighty. Compassionate expressions are more likely to help people move in a healthy direction. How many of us might feel lured out of sadness when someone expresses they miss or need us?!
Evans recommended openly acknowledging their struggle without adding negativity. You can do this by neutrally describing signs your loved one may be struggling and letting them know youre there for them, even if they dont have the energy to reach back out. Avoid tough love or sarcastic comments and refrain from negative judgements.
To help you brainstorm some messages to send your friend, we asked our Mighty community what text theyd like to receive in the midst of depression. If someone in your life needs a little reminder that could go a long way, here are some messages that might inspire you to send a text of your own.
Heres what they told us: