There was another high-profile suicide of an entertainer in the news recently. This person had been seriously depressed and distressed. He said so in an interview and in many of his songs. After reading a few posts on social media and learning more about his struggles, I feel compelled to write about the topic of depression again.
A lot of people get nervous when they learn that their friend or family member is depressed and instead of being there for them they run or ignore it. If you know that someone is depressed and you sincerely care about them, here are five ways that you can be there for them.
Text or Call: How Are You Doing? I Love You
It sounds so simple and basic but it means the world. When someone is in a depressed state they feel as if no one cares and no one is there for them. Taking two minutes out of your schedule to have a quick text conversation or phone conversation with your loved one means a lot. It interrupts that voice that’s playing over over and over in their head telling them that no one gives a damn if they live. It matters.
Hear Them Out
Some people are natural fixers, meaning that they always want to come up with a quick and simple solution to a problem. They’ll say something like, “Just exercise and you’ll feel better” or “there are so many people out there worse off than you, look at what you have going for you.”
Refrain from talking too much or minimizing your depressed friend’s feelings. There is a negative, oppressive energy talking to them, constantly telling them they’re worthless — it’s beyond your understanding or “easy fixes.” You can’t tell them how to feel because you are not in their shoes, so just hear them out. Allowing them to release their thoughts and feelings without judgment is therapeutic for them. Be patient with a depressed person.
Spend Quality Time with Them
In the age of social media, people think it’s perfectly fine to go weeks, sometimes even months without seeing or visiting their loved ones. If you know someone who is depressed, this may be one of the reasons why.
I personally believe that the lack of human connection between people of today is a main reason why depression is more prevalent. We’re human beings and we need human connections. Not in a chat room, but actually sitting in a room with someone, talking, laughing and watching television together or sharing ideas. Also when you are with someone in the same room, it’s harder for those negative voices to overwhelm their thoughts. A lot of people get into a depressive state because they are alone and start thinking too much.
Even if the person isn’t talkative when you visit, just being there with them means a whole lot. Regular visits will give them something to look forward to.
Don’t Flaunt Your Happiness in Their Presence
I’m always amazed by people who insist on advertising their happiness to the world at every opportunity. It’s rampant in social media. Every win doesn’t have to be flaunted and bragged about to those who are still struggling.
If you have a depressed friend who feels as if he or she is nothing, the worst thing you can do is present yourself as having everything. They will eventually withdraw them selves from you because they just can’t take it. Seeing someone who appears to have it all only intensities feelings of lack and unworthiness in a depressed person.
Instead of keeping up a facade of happiness and perfection, talk honestly about your own life challenges so that the depressed person will feel like he or she is not alone after all. If you can’t relate to going through major challenges in life, you probably aren’t the person who can help your friend or family member.
Go With Them to See a Therapist
Telling someone to go to a therapist is not as powerful as offering to go with them. Some people still believe that there is a stigma attached to going to therapy. But if you show your support by going to the appointment with them and sitting in the waiting room that may encourage them to take that scary but often necessary step.
If You Genuinely Care…
I’m tired of people rallying around a depressed person after it’s too late. There are things you can do to help your loved ones when they are experiencing a hard time to help them pull through it.
But it will only make a difference if you genuinely care, are able to empathize, and are non-judgmental.
Lynn Gilliard is the author of a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU. Her latest book You Matter encourages women to know and understand their worth.
Follow Lynn on Twitter: @LoveLynnGee