10 Ways to Support Your Friend Who Has Depression
It’s not always easy to know how to support a friend who has depression, and we can be hesitant to help for a wide range of reasons.
I don’t know what to say.
I don’t understand.
I’m worried I’ll get it wrong.
I’m not sure they want help.
Sometimes it feels like your help isn’t needed or wanted. But often your friend will find it just as hard to accept your help as you find it to offer it.
But, there are some ways you can support your friend who has depression.
1. Just be there: Never underestimate the power of simply being there. It shows you care, which is something your friend needs to be reminded of right now.
2. Don’t be scared of touch: We can feel awkward even around our closest friends sometimes, and may avoid physical contact. But a hug, a hand on their arm or holding your friend’s hand can be very reassuring.
3. Keep the door open: Your friend may not be ready to talk to you yet… but make sure they know you’ll be there for them when they’re ready.
4. Keep offering support: Keep reminding your friend that you’re there for them. Even if you keep the door open to them, they will find it hard to proactively seek your support.
5. Make time: Your friend may not be able to join in with the activities you used to enjoy together. Make time to spend with them in a way they feel more comfortable.
6. Be yourself: You don’t need to be a counselor or doctor to know how to help your friend. Just relax with them and remember how you used to act around them — and act the same way. There’s a reason you’re friends!
7. Keep in touch: It might feel like your friend is unwell for a long time. Don’t forget about them — short messages via text or Facebook will remind them you’re thinking of them.
8. Offer flexible support: Ask your friend how you can support them. This might mean things like accompanying them when they go out for the first time in a while, or something more practical like picking up groceries.
9. Never assume: Don’t assume you know how your friend feels, even if you’ve been depressed yourself. Don’t downplay their problems or expect a quick fix. Just continue to offer unconditional love, support and care.
10. Keep supporting: When things start to get better, support tends to drop away. This is the time when your friend might need more support than ever — just keep being their friend and asking how you can best help.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Depression can make people feel lonely and vulnerable, and the support of a good friend can help someone find a reason to continue fighting for recovery.
Good luck and thank you for trying — people like you, who care, can make the world of difference to those of us who face dark days.
A version of this post originally appeared on In Our Hands.