I love my friends and family. I don’t want any of them to struggle, suffer, or feel pain, especially not when I feel like I might be able to help.
If you love someone who has a depression diagnosis, it can be difficult to know what to do. After all, you can’t fix their brain chemistry, give them more energy, or change any difficult circumstances in their life.
But don’t despair. There are a lot of ways you can help.
Listening is crucial for the success of any friendship or relationship, but it’s especially powerful for your friend with depression to know they’re heard. It helps counter their feelings of isolation and reminds them that they are indeed worthy of your time and attention.
People with depression have often told me that one of the most frustrating things they experience is feeling like it’s “all in their head”, or that they’re just being “too emotional” and overdramatic. Affirming that you understand why something is sad or frustrating goes a long way toward helping your friend feel more grounded – and less alone.
As you talk to your friend, you might learn about specific things that make their depression more difficult. For example, perhaps they feel guilty for not getting everything done on their to-do list because they had a hard time getting out of bed. You could encourage them by letting them know that you understand how hard it can be for them to get going. Let them know you’re proud of them for all they’ve accomplished so far. Celebrate whatever victories you can along the way, however small they may seem on the surface.
There are tons of resources out there to help you learn about depression and other mental illness. Doing some research can empower you to be able to better support people in your life with depression. Maybe you and your friend can even learn together by listening to a podcast or reading through a book.
Meet for tea or coffee. Watch their favorite movie. Share a meal together. Sure, you can talk about how they’re feeling. But don’t make every conversation about their diagnosis. Remember to laugh and have fun along the way. If possible, silence your phone so you can focus on your friend. Being present can increase their sense of connection with you, which may help to alleviate some of their sadness or loneliness.
Text or call now and then just to see how they’re doing. It’s a simple way to brighten someone’s day and let them know they matter.
You can pray for your loved one with depression anytime. If prayer is part of your daily routine, put them on your prayer list. Ask them if they need more specific prayer. Next time, you read an encouraging or uplifting verse, share it with your friend to remind them of God’s love and care for their heart and their circumstances.
You probably already do a lot of these things for your friends and loved ones. Keep it up! Even choosing one or two of them to do with intention whenever you see your friend will make a big difference.
It can seem overwhelming when you friend, loved one, or family member has depression. If you need help along the way, we offer mental health resources, prayer, and mentorship. All you have to do is reach out.