6 Ways You Can Help Friends Cope With Depression

There is a proverb; “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.” From that, I believe it is fair to say my friend’s enemy is my enemy. In so much as we fight illness and disease, they are an enemy.

The reading from other submissions in this forum, coupled with my own experience prompted this article to help friends, help their friends with the struggle. Here are 6 ways you can help.

1. Expect me to answer your question; “How are you?”

My true feelings are the answer I want to give a friend. You mean more to me, and deserve the honesty and truth of my condition.

“Fine”, would be my reply to an acquaintance or stranger.

2. Sometimes I need you to just listen.

I am not always looking for an answer, sometimes I just need to vent.

3. Expect inconsistency.

When I take time for me, I am not avoiding you.

4. Present me with challenges.

Remind me that I am not defined or confined by my illness.

5. Know that I will be back.

Once I find my strength, I will be back to my social norm.

6. Never give up.

I am always worried that I am a burden and you are going to leave.

You wanting to help is always appreciated, but even if you share an affliction, you’re not living in my moment. Please understand, and try not to take offense if your advice seems to be falling on deaf ears, it isn’t. Processing feelings or finding a way to apply a coping method you have suggested takes a little time.

Point out how much I enjoyed our last visit and getting out is therapeutic. Never stop reminding me that I am not my illness. Urge me to engage and go out. I may still not have the strength in that moment, but I’ll know you accept me, and my imperfections.

All of this may seem obvious to some, but to people afflicted with anxiety and depression, we see the world through a different lens. We have lost jobs, relationships, and in the worst cases, some have considered giving up their lives to Mental Illness through isolation or suicide. People we thought were friends pushed their own agenda, family grew impatient and forced their point of view, and many people walked out in our darkest moments.

There is no cure for Mental Illness, only management. You are a key component of that management strategy. Doctors have to be there. Family is expected to be there. Friends choose to be there, seeing past the illness, accepting us for who we are and helping us return to who we used to be, and we appreciate that more than you will ever know.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Unsplash photo via Felix Russell-Saw.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Depression

teenage girl with depression sitting on floor with helping hand reaching for her

What I Wish I Knew When First Diagnosed With Depression as a Teen

I was looking back through my old journals yesterday, and I found one I started right after I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, over 6 years ago. It was heartbreaking to read my 16-year-old self’s confusion and pain after these diagnoses changed my life. I wish I could go back and encourage my younger [...]
woman wearing blue dress looking away while hands reach to support her

Depression, and Why My Friendship Comes With a Warning Label

Things are wonderful right now. I’m happier than I think I’ve ever been. I often say I come with a warning label, and here it is. The depression will return. I have no way of knowing when or why or how long it will last, but it will come and drag me into the deepest [...]
woman with long hair standing in field

My First Month of Antidepressants, and How I've Been Coping

As humans, we have this desire to slice and dice ourselves into neat little boxes and categories. We place our body in one box, our emotions in another, our mind in the next. (Where do we place our soul?) Headache? Take a Tylenol. Heartache? Have a good cry or talk to a friend. Bored? Pick [...]
Vector Illustration of an Abstract Woman Portrait

How My Breakup Taught Me to Prioritize My Mental Health

Three years ago, I met someone who would soon become the most precious person in my life. He was my rock, my guardian angel. No matter how irrationally my depression made me act, he would always stay. He stuck with my moods, my panic attacks and my random bouts of emptiness better than anyone would [...]