5 Real Ways to Help a Friend Who Is Depressed
People battling depression have many recovery tools at their disposal: Yoga helps boost mental health, and office rituals can help people deal with depression at work. But nothing is as effective as building emotional resilience through talk therapy or #PopUpTherapy, like Talkspace. However, it can be difficult for people to accept that they’re depressed and actually take action in order to feel better. That’s where good friends come in. Here are four ways to help a friend who’s battling depression through one of their toughest times.
1. Schedule one-on-one time. If you suspect that a friend is depressed, go on a friend date with them so that you have uninterrupted time to talk. Laura Heck, licensed marriage and family therapist, recommends a nice long walk, which should give both of you a temporary mood boost. Save your questions and concerns for this time.
2. Ask open-ended questions. During your alone time, be curious about what’s going on in your friend’s life, and show them that you’re interested by asking open-ended questions. Ask about things that they once did and no longer do, such as working out, going to church or hanging out with friends. “Many people don’t even notice that they have slowly stopped enjoying the things they once loved,” Heck said. “That may be a good indicator that something is going on.”
3. Gently show them your concern. Relationship expert and author Ty Tashiro believes that “if someone is depressed, they probably are self-aware about it.” While your friend might be self-conscious about their declining mental health, showing that you’re concerned for them will make them feel like less of a burden. “I would let my friend know that feeling down from time to time is normal, but that they just don’t seem like themselves,” Heck said. She also recommends following up on this concern by encouraging your friend to do something positive for him or herself.
4. Help remove barriers to help. Although having a network of friends is a great asset to someone who is depressed, Heck stresses the importance of seeking out professional help. As a friend, help do research or ask for referrals of therapists in your area. If you can, drive your friend to their first appointment. By encouraging and helping your friend get help, you are making it easier for them to focus on their own mental health, rather than the logistics of seeing a professional.
5. Remember to practice self-love. While being there for a friend is so worth it, it can also be really hard to see a friend in distress. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as you try to help your friend. That could mean setting boundaries on the amount of time you’ll listen to them talk about their sadness or the bad things that happened to them that day. Maybe you’re willing to listen for 10 minutes, but not for one hour. Don’t feel guilty about setting these boundaries, because even though you want to help your friend, you love yourself too, and need to pay attention to your needs.
Have any other tips to help a friend battling depression? Let us know @BritandCo.
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