Something seems off with your friend lately. They rarely come out and enjoy the activities you used to do together. When you talk to them, they seem very gloomy, tired, and have no interest in doing anything, even what they previously loved. If this sounds familiar, chances are your friend is depressed. Then the question arises: how to comfort and aid someone with depression?
Depression comes in many forms, possibly because of a significant change or a life event they were unprepared for. It can also be seasonal and, in worse cases, chronic or clinical. Understanding their condition and what they’re going through is essential if you want to help them. But before learning how to comfort and console someone with depression, you need to ensure they are really depressed.
How To Identify Depression?
The first thing you need to do is identify depression and the symptoms of depression your friend is going through, what symptoms are they exhibiting, and when did they first start showing these signs?
Here are the symptoms of depression as per the DSM-V. If they are experiencing five or more symptoms for two weeks, they can be diagnosed with depression. However, the diagnosis needs to be made by a certified professional.
-depressed mood all day or nearly every day,
–decreased interest in all activities,
-fluctuations in appetite or body weight,
-decreased ability to think and reduction of physical movement,
-feelings of worthlessness or too much guilt,
Now that you’ve learned what the symptoms of depression are, let us see how you can know when it’s time to seek help. If these symptoms make it hard for your friend to function in everyday life and persist over a long time, they need medical help. You can refer your friend to a therapist or a depression helpline. It is also vital to seek help if they have increasing or more intense thoughts about self-harm or suicidal ideation. They may be reluctant to go at first since mental health treatment is usually stigmatized in society. Here are some steps you can take to help your friend and encourage them to start their recovery:
How To Comfort & Console Someone With Depression
1. Understand their condition
Read personal essays, narratives, and descriptions of depression to help understand your friend’s hardships. This is an essential tool to console anyone with depression and convince yourself recovery is possible. Read up on those who have recovered, what their situation was like, what tools they employed, and so on.
Depressed people often suffer from a negative or negativistic internal monologue. This means that they often view the negative side of things and have self-defeating thoughts. Depression is also linked to a lack of self-esteem, usually caused by the same in adolescents.
When considering how to comfort a person with depression, use the experiences of those who have recovered to inspire them. Seeing that someone cares for them can help them deal with these negative monologues and strengthen them.
2. Stay in touch
Depression is a severe mental health condition that cannot be fixed in a day. It needs to be constantly worked upon and depends on the support ecosystem around the patient. If the patient does not get appropriate support, they will have difficulty with it.
If you want to comfort and help depressed friends, stay in regular contact with them and check up on them. No matter how briefly, this will make them feel wanted and like they deserve to be seen. This external validation eventually paves the way to self-validation. A strong support system of friends also shows them that they’re not alone, encouraging and motivating them in the long run.
It’s not just what you say. Your friends also pay attention to the tone and context. How you say it matters a lot too. They shouldn’t feel like you’re there even though you don’t want to or that their presence is not appreciated in the group, just showing up can make an impact.
Set clear boundaries, and let them know when you can be there for them and when you can’t be. Sacrificing yourself and your work to help your friends through mental health-related issues is not an informed course of action. This can lead you to resent them in the future and may deteriorate the relationship.
In a nutshell, how to comfort someone who’s depressed? You can provide them with security and trust by offering your authentic presence. However, note that you should avoid self-sacrificial actions and set clear boundaries for better communication and quality of relationships.
3. Don’t give up on them
A friend giving up on them or their treatment is the most major setback for someone suffering from depression. They feel guilty, have low self-esteem, and will likely blame themselves for you giving up on them. It feeds into their negative inner monologue and increases their negative bias.
Someone going through depression is also more prone to emotional or mood fluctuations. A judgment-free space can give them an outlet to express these feelings and be themselves.
When considering how to console someone with depression, remember to be patient, as depression is tough on everyone. Your loved one is likely to act out and feel like they’re not themselves, and that’s exactly right. Depression is a serious and insidious condition that can control your urges, actions, and, eventually you. That is why it takes so much courage and hope to emerge out of it finally.
4. Enquire and keep a check on their condition
How to comfort someone with depression by enquiring and keeping a check on them? Firstly, by enquiring about this, you show them that you care. Secondly, you get a hint of how they are feeling right now, better understanding their condition. Thirdly, this gives them someone to talk to with whom they can share and express their deepest concerns. Sometimes, we all want a listening ear, and your friend might be the same.
Be patient and lead the conversation. You can ask them questions and encourage them to speak. This also leads many who are depressed to conceal their depression, to avoid it getting out in the public eye, often also known as smiling depression.
Besides being there for them, you can also monitor your friend’s condition. This will help you better understand them in the long run and provide valuable feedback(see point 6).
5. Don’t be inappropriate
For more information on how to comfort someone who has depression by avoiding hurtful statements, you can refer to our blog post on the same. Here are some helpful tips you can keep in mind to be considerate and show them empathy:-
-Do not reduce depression to merely feeling gloomy, sad, or in a bad mood. As discussed earlier, depression is a clinically recognized mood disorder. Hence, you can’t expect your friends or loved ones going through the same to “cheer up” and recover instantly, either.
-Provide your friend with a judgment-free space. Especially if you’re part of a group, you can start by opening up more about mental health and making people feel comfortable sharing their problems.
-Toxic positivity is when you have a particular opinion of how people should feel and judge them for feeling another way. Views like this are not grounded in reality or the discipline of psychology but are opinion-based and should be avoided.
-Validate and acknowledge their feelings. Let your friends know what they are going through is normal, and they can recover
In a nutshell, treat a person going through depression with the respect and care they deserve.
6. Suggest Activities that Improve their Mental Health
When not sure what to tell someone depressed, you can suggest a group activity, something you can do together, or something that improves their health. Make certain the exercises are easy and don’t require much effort, as depression also makes a person tired and physically inhibited. This includes teachers, close relatives, counselors, and so on, but they should see a licensed therapist or psychologist. You can also refer to our list of the best online therapy platforms.
Recovery from depression can sometimes involve heavy amounts of medication. While medication is essential for healing, healthy activities can give your friend the structure they may need to become their best version. Some habits you can suggest to improve their mental health include:-
-Encourage exercise: Exercise develops your immune system and has proven benefits in treating depression, anxiety, and other mental illness.
–Mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing: These practices can help them be more present, causing a break from negative thought patterns.
–Self-care activities: Self-care can help your friend improve and maintain their mental health.
–Recover their self-esteem: Depression takes a toll on your opinion of yourself, but consistently overcoming the obstacles set for you can help heal it.
In a nutshell, make valuable suggestions and monitor their recovery. You know your friend better and can advise them on what action to take next. But always remember they have the right and agency to make decisions for themselves.
Seeing a loved one or a cherished friend endure tough times is hard for everyone. While it may seem challenging at first, you can follow these easy steps to learn how to comfort, console and help your friends through depression. Now that you’ve learned how to console someone with depression, you can take this quiz to measure your overall mental health awareness.
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