Seeing a friend struggle with depression can be painful. You might feel powerless to help them rise above their mental health challenges and manage the symptoms of this disorder. If you worry that depression is preventing someone you care about from enjoying life to the fullest, here are five proactive tips for reaching them where they are.
1. Be Patient and Compassionate
Depression can have many high and low points. Your friend may have some days when they feel good, and others where they hardly have enough energy to get up. During the down periods, don’t be critical or tell them to “snap out of it.” Instead, gently let them know you’re always there if they need to talk to someone. Offer to help with their laundry or cook balanced meals for them.
2. Learn About Depression Symptoms
Depression can manifest very differently from one person to the next, so it can help you to know what warning signs to look for. Note any drastic changes in your friend’s mood or behavior, like sleeping too much or too little; a lack of interest in previously favorite activities; or a loss of energy and enthusiasm. Does your friend seem grumpy and irritable? Are they having trouble staying optimistic? Do they harshly criticize themselves? All these could be red flags of depression.
3. Support a Healthy, Active Lifestyle
In addition to therapy, exercise is one of the best ways to combat depression. Trying to convince a person with depression to get and stay active may feel like an uphill battle, but even something as small as convincing them to sit outside with you for a few minutes can help immensely. Don’t get discouraged if they repeatedly turn down your invitations. Even if they believe they do not deserve to feel better, you shouldn’t give up on trying to reach them.
4. Notice Their Improvements
Your friend can get discouraged if they feel their depression treatment regimen is not working as quickly as they hoped. As part of the support you’re already offering, be sure to compliment them on how much progress they’ve made. Point out that they seem more engaged in the world around them, or that they’re taking joy in small things again.
5. Encourage Them to Seek Help
People with depression may assume they’ll be able to overcome it through sheer force of will, but clinical depression is an illness that requires professional treatment. With the correct approach, someone you care about can learn to manage their symptoms and lead a happier, more fulfilling lifestyle. Demonstrate your willingness to help by researching treatment options, offering to drive them to therapy appointments or helping them create a list of questions to ask in a consultation with a mental health care provider.
Dual-Diagnosis Treatment in California
At Hope by the Sea, we understand the complex relationship between depression and addiction. Our clinical team has created multiple levels of care and specialty programming for people who need additional support on their wellness and recovery journey. To learn more about our programs and how we can help you or a loved one heal, please contact our family-owned facility today.