Compassion and Friendship:
7 Ways to Uplift a Friend Struggling from Depression
by Sarah Davies
January 2018 - Depression is fairly common. Chances are, someone you know is struggling with depression. If this person is close to you, you probably want to do all you can to improve the way they feel. Though depression is far from rare, it's still commonly misunderstood. When you want to be as helpful as possible, you need to make sure you truly understand the person you're trying to uplift.
1. Avoid Common Stereotypes
Things like sunshine, fresh air, and a positive mindset are great. These things may not be attainable or helpful to people with depression. Depression is a disorder, rather than a fleeting feeling. Trying to spread a little cheer and treating depression as something lighthearted might make your friend feel like you're diminishing their inner struggle, which is the exact opposite of what you're trying to do.
2. Don't Treat Them Any Differently
One of the worst things you can do is change the way you treat your friend with depression. Neglecting to invite them to your birthday party because you have a feeling they won't want to come might make them feel excluded - even if you thought about their imminent rejection to the invitation.
Focusing on their sadness all the time will only make them focus on their sadness more. Talk about the same things you always talk about. Go to your favorite places together, and send them the same funny text messages. You'll be providing a sense of normalcy in their life, which is important when someone feels down.
3. Understand They May Not Want the Same Things
Depression can suddenly change a person. They may not feel as extroverted as they once used to. Your friend with depression might have been the life of the party, but now they're more comfortable at home on their couch. If they don't want to go out, come to them. You might have to take the initiative when your friend has become a little more withdrawn.
4. Support Them In The Things They Love
People with depression sometimes lose touch with hobbies or interests that once made them happy. Depression creates something like a cloud that makes joy feel unattainable or foggy at times. If your depressed friend loved writing, get them a small gift for writers. Send them a small care package that's tailored to their hobbies just to let them know you were thinking of them. If he or she was an avid gardener, offer to come over and help harvest their vegetables. It's a small and supportive push in the right direction.
5. Make Yourself Available
Let your friend with depression know that you're always there. Even if they don't take you up on the offer, it could be comforting to know that they have someone to turn to if things feel especially dark and lonely. Let them know they can talk to you whenever they need to, and you're there to listen without judgement.
6. Don't Get Offended
Your friend with depression may not want to talk or hang out. The worst thing you could do would be to become pushy or act offended. Your friend might not understand how or why they upset you. They're dealing with a lot of their own sad feelings, and they don't want to feel responsible for yours as well. Your friend may cancel plans from time to time or fail to answer a phone call. Just give them some time.
7. Keep Yourself Healthy
You can't be your best for other people if you aren't your best for yourself. Throwing yourself with full force at other people's depression might lead to compassion fatigue, which can in turn become your own depression. Remember that you aren't a therapist. Be prepared to point your friend to resources they might need if they truly require the help of a professional.
True friendships can withstand a lot - including depression. Be patient, forgiving, and present when your friend struggling with depression needs it the most.
About the author
With her unquenchable love for writing and sharing knowledge, Sarah Davies might often be found online, sharing her tips and suggestions on numerous topics. From business and careers to more sensitive topics like supporting underprivileged students, Sarah is always there to share her insights and debate the best solutions. Feel free to follow her on her Twitter: @sarah_davies_au.
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