Thank you for being one of the people who wants to help someone with depression. You’re one of the special ones.
There is a right way how to help someone with depression and a wrong way.
The wrong way, which will badly harm people with depression, is to put too much pressure on them, to think you know what they are going through, or to act like it’s not a big deal.
There are millions of people who are suffering from depression.
Now let’s look at how to help people with depression so we can be a positive influence in their lives.
How To Help Someone With Depression
1: When living with someone with depression, keep your Zen
I’ve helped many people with depression, so there’s one thing I know: it’s not easy.
People who are depressed can say some pretty crappy things. One person I once helped challenged my every belief. “You only use meditation to escape reality,” she told me. “You’re a coward just like everyone else.” I made the mistake of telling her that my father used to be an alcoholic before he passed away. “You’re going to turn out just like him,” she said.
Yes. People who are depressed can say some pretty shitty things. That’s why you need to have your inner Zen in gear before you even start trying.
The absolute most important way to help people with depression is to make sure you that you keep your Zen no matter what happens.
This can be especially true of people with bipolar disorder, who will be nice one moment then nasty the next.
Personally, whenever I help someone with depression I try to meditate for at least 20 minutes first. I find my inner peace, because that way no matter what is said, I know it won’t affect me.
So, here’s tip number 1:
When You Help Someone With Depression, Meditate for 20 Minutes first. That way you will be relaxed and calm and you will not be hurt.
2 : People with depression deserve respect
One of the utmost important rules when helping someone with depression is this: respect them.
This is especially true for people in abusive relationships, like people who are victims to gaslighting tactics. They need respect.
It can be all too easy to say something like “I know how you’re feeling.”
Here’s the thing: you probably don’t know how someone with depression is feeling.
Sure, we’ve all been down, but being a little down is not the same as suffering from depression. Depression is a killer. Clinical depression takes us to a point of pain that most people don’t experience. After all, most of us do not need to visit a residential treatment center for depression. But depression is that serious.
So here’s the deal: don’t lie to them. Don’t tell them you know how they’re feeling. You don’t. You probably never will.
You need to show respect always. If you inadvertently insult them, you’re going to make things a hell of a lot worse.
3: Listen to their depressive thoughts
One of the best ways how to help someone with depression is to just listen.
People with depression suffer extremely painful negative thoughts.
They need to vent these thoughts. And in my experience it helps when there is someone to listen.
Here’s the crazy thing about society. We’ll pop pills like crazy. But a lot of the times the only thing we actually need is someone who will listen to us.
The problem is that everyone is so involved with their own lives that they forget to stop. They forget to open their ears. They forget to lend people their earnest attention.
Honestly, when you’re trying to help someone with depression, the best thing you can do is to just sit there and listen. Listen to their problems. Listen to whatever they want to tell you about their depression. Just listen. That’s all.
Sometimes, healing takes as little as having one person who’s willing to listen to you. This is doubly true for kids and teens with depression. A lot of kids get depression at school and feel like there is no one to listen to them. Giving them that open ear can make a world of difference.
4: Help people with depression by letting them know you’re there
When we conducted a survey of people who had overcome depression, we found that more than half of them said that the people who were there for them made all the difference.
Offering love and support is a great way to help someone to heal.
Nigel Thornton recently overcame depression. He said to us, “Sometimes it’s the little things. Simply being reminded that there are people who love you and who will support you, that makes a world of difference.”
5: How to love someone with depression
It’s important to show love for people with depression. But it’s not always easy.
Thornton says, “Some people are not comfortable with expressing their feelings upfront. To get around this, simply make some gestures of your support.”
Thornton suggests sending a card, texting, cooking dinner or buying a small gift—just as a token of your love.
6: Never Criticise People With Depression
Most people don’t take criticism very well.
People suffering from depression take criticism very badly because their self esteem is low. A harsh criticism is like a wound.
“Looking back, there were things that some people said to me that I wouldn’t care about now,” says Thornton, “but when you’re suffering from depression, the slightest harsh word can be extremely painful.”
For this reason it is important to be honest with yourself also. “Ask yourself if you can take being around a depressed person today,” says Thornton. “If you’re in a bad mood yourself you’re not likely to help much. If you need time alone, take it. You deserve to be happy too.”
7: Be gentle to people with depression
We all know that there is a time and a place for tough love, but you should never use tough love on a person with depression.
Saying to a depression sufferer, “Snap out of it” or “Get over it” is belittling them and it will do no good.
8: Do not tell someone with depression that it’s not a big deal
We’ve all heard people say, “You’re just too sensitive” or “Stop letting everything bother you.” Such statements are only going to make the depression sufferer feel worse. They already feel very bad about themselves, telling them they’re “Too sensitive “ or “Overly emotional” is just adding to their low self esteem.
9: People with depression say depressing things. Don’t take it to heart
There are going to be times when a depressed person snaps at you.
“I said some truly horrible things when I had depression,” says Thornton. “The thing is, when you have depression you can’t help it. You say things you don’t mean. You’re hurt, you’re angry, you’re depressed. Sometimes those negative energies spill over onto people you love and care about.” Know that when a they say something hurtful, it’s their depression talking, not them.”
10: Be cautious giving advice to people with depression
A lot of people like to offer advice to depressed people, and they mean it well. The problem is that when you say “I can help” they hear “You can’t do this alone.” Again, advice comes across as belittlement.
Alright. Those are my tips on how to help someone with depression. Now it’s over to you guys.
Go out today and spend just 10 minutes helping someone else to feel better. We’re all in this world together, guys, so go out there and make someone’s day.
11. Dont let their depressive mood effect your emotions
You are probably a highly empathetic people. Empaths like me (and you?) are always the first people to help others.
Naturally, when we hear about someone’s suffering we empathetically feel some of that suffering ourselves. There can be physical symptoms of this. Increased heartrate, nausea, dizziness.
When helping someone with anxiety, we may experience anxiety ourselves. And this can compound the issue.
To help a friend recover people, we first need to control our own energy and our own feelings. We must be mindful of how we are feeling and take control. Them, our personal feelings will not interfere with our compassion and our kindness.
Try practicing meditation, yoga or tai chi before helping someone with an emotional issue.
By controlling our own minds, we are better able to help others.
12. Be a good friend to someone with depression
One of the best ways to help someone who is depressed, or who is suffering in any way, is simply to remind them that we are they.
Here’s the secret: There never is a right thing to say in these situations. Say something. Something gentle. Something soothing.
Be the sound of rain on the window that says little yet reminds us that we are never alone in the world.
13. Tell them that you don’t know what depression is like but you are there for them
When we’re not sure what to say, a good choice is to actually tell the other person that we don’t know what to say.
Mindful communication means accurately and objectively stating how we are feeling. We don’t have to say anything intelligent or meaningful. Sometimes we just have to say, “I don’t know what to say. I just know I feel for you and that I will always be here for you”.
14. Always listen to people with depression
Ask any professional counsellor and they will tell you: most people just want to be around a good listener.
I’m a quiet, private person. I don’t always know how to say. But I am profoundly compassionate. And I always listen. 99% of the time that’s enough. Two ears can be worth a million words.
15. Offer to actually do something
One of the best ways how to help someone to recover is to do something practical. Simple things are usually the best. Go grab the groceries for them, take their kids out, do the cooking for them….
The simple, kind act of offering to help someone is often enough to give them a little boost. Remember, you might not change the world, but you can change the world for one person.