How to Support a Depressed Friend
1. Find out the kind of depression they are suffering from. Symptoms of clinical depression include sleep difficulties, loss of appetite, a desire to isolate themselves, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, suicidal tendencies and an inability to determine the cause of their depression. Those with situational depression may have some of the same symptoms but they generally know why they feel as they do, and once the issue is resolved, they are able to function normally again.
2. Be available to listen, or just be there for them. Sometimes you don’t need to say a word. Don’t offer opinions or advice; don’t judge them; be patient and understanding; be empathic, gentle and compassionate.
3. Take them out of their environment as a change of scenery can help to change our mood. It doesn’t have to be wildly exciting – just a walk by the river or a coffee at the mall is often enough to shift things a bit.
4. Don’t comment on their lifestyle (habits and patterns). Comments like “You ought to try and sleep more … or change your diet … or exercise more … are likely to shut the person down. These are often beyond the person’s control. They are symptoms of depression – and the actual cause.
5. Encourage your friend to seek professional help. A friend or family member can be a real lifeline; but objective support from a professional counsellor can help them deal with the cause in a more effective way.