Mental Health: How To Be There For A Friend With Depression



The tragic death of two well-known and respected people, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, have shed light on some of the common misconceptions of mental health. There has been a barrage of posts on various social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter that talk about this issue.

It’s an extremely sensitive topic as it deals with the complexity of the human emotion. Proposing that there is one clearcut solution to mental illnesses contradicts the nature of humans as human. There are various ways that people cope with their own emotions.

Depression isn’t just sadness. It’s not something that will disappear in the face of success.

Depression has no regards to the money you have, friends in your life, or pretty face. It’s an illness that plagues your mind with every negative thought possibly conceivable. Dealing with depression may, more often than not, make no sense which makes it difficult to reach out. But being there helps. Along with sentiments that serve to break the stigma surrounding depression, this also includes precautionary tips on how to approach people who share the same condition.

1. Check in on your friends

Depression has symptoms that are sometimes easily overlooked. More likely than not, they’re keeping it to themselves in fear of prejudice and discrimination, or they, themselves, don’t know that they are experiencing such symptoms. Shooting a quick message asking them how they are is already a huge step. Asking them entails love and care, that you’ve thought about them enough to message them.

Moreover, there are other ways to check in on your loved ones other than outright asking about the condition of their well-being. “Hey, this reminded me of you.” ,”I miss you.”, “Lunch?” are some of the ways you can show them that you’re present in their lives and that they are in yours.

2. Read up on mental health

In connection with the first one, there is a danger in being heavy-handed when asking about your loved one’s state. Being handed emotionally heavy information about that person can get overwhelming most of the time. And in that moment of vulnerability, you might end up saying something that might offend them or make them feel worse despite your best intentions.

Thus, educating yourself about the problem itself is a head start to helping the other person. You will get an idea of what your friend is going through by reading up on the condition and its symptoms, and with that comes the possible approaches you can take. This also depends on how you know that person which includes their interests, sleep schedule, and other changes in attitude.

3. Listen

Talking through your loved one’s problems can prove to be difficult as you wrack your brain for the remaining advice and positive things to say. However, most of the time, they won’t expect you to solve their problems for them as they, themselves, are aware of that difficulty. So, the best thing you can do is to listen. Sometimes, a shoulder to cry on and open ears are just what they need to lessen the weight the weight on their shoulders.

4. Support their treatment

This is one of the most important gestures you can do to for your loved one. People undergoing treatment especially needs support as there has been stigma revolving around mental health, as well as the treatments for it.

There are a number of ways to show your support. One of which is encouragement through thoughtful actions, such as offering assistance in appointments, research, and other responsibilities they are having troubles with. Through this, you will be able to show that the treatment they are going through is worth it.

Another way of showing support is through leading by example. Surrounding your loved one with the positive energy can hinder them from going even deeper into a worse state.

5. Take care of yourself

In addition to what was previously mentioned, self-care is a crucial aspect. Your own well-being and health should be secure before you help someone with a condition such as depression, otherwise it wouldn’t do either of you any good. There is a potential danger that comes with two unstable people trying to help each other’s stabilities.

As much as you want to extend yourself to help them, you still have to put your own health first. You shouldn’t be their own therapist — there are professionals for that — so don’t take on that responsibility. When you have the stability and energy necessary then that will only be the proper time to put yourself out there.

However, take note that this doesn’t mean that you still shouldn’t continue to care for your loved ones. With your own health being jeopardized, there will be limitations to what you can do physically and emotionally.

Be a friend to others and yourself.

It’s daunting to dive in to the discussion of these issues, even more so when you’re faced with the possibility that your loved ones could be going through the same thing. Depression can’t just be broken down and fixed by a series of tweets or over a lunch date.

It is important that you don’t give in to the pressure of solving their problems — that is not your responsibility. It’s a long, continuous process that involves a lot of patience and love. However, as scary as it is, we shouldn’t let that fear stop us from doing the best we can to continue to love and care for others.

If you know someone who is struggling with depression or any kind of mental illness, don’t hesitate to call these mental health hotline numbers by Department of Health – 804-4673 & 0917-5584673.