It can be hard to know how to go about talking to someone suffering with depression. You want to be helpful and supportive to your friend or loved one without making them feel worse. Below are some suggested ways you can approach you friend and show your support.
1. Be encouraging.
Give hope for recovery – There is always a way through. “You are not alone!”
2. Be genuine.
It’s more important to be sincere and to really care, than to say the ‘right words.’ Empathy, kindness, patience and compassion…Be consistent and predictable. Let them know they will not be abandoned.
3. The right time
It is best your friend initiates the conversation, although if this does not happen, let them know that you are concerned and are there for them – to talk or to find help together. Encourage them to talk when they’re ready. If they’re not ready to talk – remind them you are available when they’re ready.
4. The right place
Talk in a place where you can give your attention and will not be interrupted or where they will feel self-conscious.
5. Be a good listener
Giving them your full attention without being distracted by phones or TV’s or other people will let them know that both the person and how they feel are important to you. Listen without interrupting or judging. Resist the urge to come up with a solution or talk about your own situation.
6. Offer support and help
Discourage dependence but also let them know you are willing to stand by them and be a support. However, be careful that you do not “take over’.
7. Seek professional advice
Professional help is needed when depression affects a person’s functioning in daily life or lasts for a period of weeks. Help find a professional and offer to accompany your friend to the appointment.
It’s important not to:
– Treat their circumstance as one easily overcome. Refrain from saying things like “Just get over it!” or “Lighten up!”
– Be hostile or sarcastic, or try and lighten their mood with jokes.
– Become over involved or over protective.