“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel
Depression can be incredibly hard to deal with on your own, which is why we often seek out other people and support systems to handle the day-to-day feelings that come with depression. Chances are, someone in your life is dealing with depression and will seek you out for emotional support and validation.
Psychologist Selena C. Snow, PhD, says, “[A] depressed person has an opportunity to learn that they are not the only one suffering in silence as they gain support and empathy from others who understand the depths of their pain. And they benefit from the encouragement of peers to take small steps forward.”
If you’ve never been depressed, you may not know the best ways to deal with someone who has depression, and to help make them feel stable and honored in their life. If you find yourself in the support system of a depressed friend or family member, here are eight ways to help them feel like themselves again, and to let them know you honor their feelings.
Here Are 8 Tricks That Help A Person With Depression Feel Honored and Happy Again
1. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist
Depression is a serious issue, and just pretending like nothing is wrong isn’t going to make it go away. You may think that acting like everything is normal is the best thing to do, but it can make a depressed person feel like their emotions aren’t valid. Make sure you acknowledge what they’re going through, and how hard it can be for them.
2. Don’t try to fix them
Your friend or family member who is depressed isn’t broken. Rather, they’re simply dealing with a common, but serious, mental illness that needs treatment by professionals.
According to WebMD, “To get better, your person needs professional help from a doctor or therapist. Depression is a medical illness. You wouldn’t try to cure a friend’s diabetes on your own. You shouldn’t try curing depression, either.”
You won’t be able to fix them, because they aren’t broken – so don’t try to fix them. They need support and love, not a quick fix.
3. Easy on the positivity
Being a source of positivity that your depressed friend can reach out to when they need it is incredibly important. However, don’t try to drown them in endless positivity. It might backfire and just make them feel worse that they can’t seem to feel positive on their own. At worst, it’s probably extremely annoying! So be positive, but don’t force it.
4. Let them talk it out
Don’t try to stop your depressed friend from talking about how they’re feeling, even if those emotions are negative and self-deprecating.
“Don’t avoid the person because you can’t think of something clever to say – someone who can listen is valuable. Sometimes just being there with them is valuable, so don’t put pressure on them to have something to say either. Make it clear that you want them to feel free to talk about anything that’s on their mind – but only when they feel able to,” says psychiatrist Michael Simpson
Therefore, being able to talk through their situation is actually really good for them, and can help them work themselves out of a depressive episode. Make sure you’re always an open ear for them to talk to.
5. Validate their feelings
Everyone deserves to feel validated. Even if they are having feelings that don’t make sense, make sure to express that you understand the way they’re feeling, and that they don’t have to feel bad about their emotions. Emotions are neutral – it’s how we deal with them and what we do in reaction that can be maladaptive. Validating their feelings can make it easier for them to deal with them.
6. Be supportive
A depressed friend or family member may find it hard to reach out for help when they need it. So, make sure that you offer your support to them during their times of need.
Psychiatrist and author Dr. Gail Saltz says, “Most people’s reaction—it isn’t conscious—is to pull away, get away… Know that you can talk to them without feeling what they feel. You can do a great service by reaching out. You don’t have to imagine what it feels like.”
Being supportive can make it easier for a depressed person to feel loved and listened to. Don’t force your help on them, but definitely offer your support if they need it.
7. Invite them places
Sometimes, being depressed means that all you want to do is lay in bed and stay in. Encourage your friend to go out with you, and invite them places to give them the choice of something other than staying in. Encouraging them to go out with you makes it easier for them to get out of the house. They’ll feel good that you’re still willing to hang out and invite them places even when they’re depressed.
8. Set boundaries
As much as you want to help your friend with whatever they need, it’s important to take care of yourself too. Make sure you set boundaries so that you don’t get overworked. If you end up being overwhelmed by helping your friend, you’ll do more damage to you both than good.
“Taking care of someone with depression can be a lot to take on. It’s important that you set aside time for yourself. Do things you enjoy. Get out of the house every now and then. Take walks, or go to the gym. Hang out with friends. You may feel guilty for thinking about yourself. But if you don’t, you’ll burn out — and that won’t help either of you,” adds WebMD.
Therefore, make sure that you take care of yourself so that you can keep helping your friend when they need it.
Depression is a serious thing that affects many people. You may never have experienced it, but you may have friends and family who have. If this ever happens, it’s important to know exactly how you can help them and continue to honor them as a person. You may not be able to fix their depression, but you’ll be able to help and support them when they need it.