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How to help a depressed friend

How to Help a depressed friend
Help finding support
Support therapy
Take care of yourself
Educate yourself
Help with chores
Extend invitations
Be patient
Stay in touch
Recognize the forms
Things to avoid
Warning signs
Do you have a friend who’s living with depression? You’re not alone.

According to the most recent estimates from the National Institute of Mental Health, just over 7 percent of all U.S. adults experienced an episode of major depression in 2017.

Worldwide, over 300 million adults and childrenTrusted Source live with depression.

But not everyone experiences depression in the same way, and symptoms can vary.

If your friend is experiencing depression, they may:seem sad or tearful
appear more pessimistic than usual or hopeless about the future
talk about feeling guilty, empty, or worthless
seem less interested in spending time together or communicate less frequently than they normally would
get upset easily or are unusually irritable
have less energy, move slowly, or seem generally listless
have less interest in their appearance than usual or neglect basic hygiene, such as showering and brushing their teeth
have trouble sleeping or sleep much more than usual
care less about their usual activities and interests
seem forgetful or have trouble concentrating or deciding on things
eat more or less than usual
talk about death or suicide

1.Listen to them
Let your friend know you’re there for them. You can start the conversation by sharing your concerns and asking a specific question. For example, you might say, “It seems like you’ve been having a hard time lately. What’s on your mind?”

Keep in mind that your friend may want to talk about what they feel, but they might not want advice.

Engage with your friend by using active listening techniques:

Ask questions to get more information instead of assuming you understand what they mean.
Validate their feelings. You might say, “That sounds really difficult. I’m sorry to hear that.”
Show empathy and interest with your body language.
Your friend may not feel like talking the first time you ask, so it can help to continue telling them you care.

Keep asking open questions (without being pushy) and expressing your concern. Try to have conversations in person whenever possible. If you live in different areas, try video chatting.

2.Help them find support
Your friend may not be aware they’re dealing with depression, or they may be unsure how to reach out for support.

Even if they know therapy could help, it can be daunting to search for a therapist and make an appointment.

If your friend seems interested in counseling, offer to help them review potential therapists. You can help your friend list things to ask potential therapists and things they want to mention in their first session.

Encouraging them and supporting them to make that first appointment can be so helpful if they’re struggling.

3.Support them in continuing therapy
On a bad day, your friend might not feel like leaving the house. Depression can zap energy and increase the desire to self-isolate.

If they say something like, “I think I’m going to cancel my therapy appointment,” encourage them to stick with it.

You might say, “Last week you said your session was really productive and you felt a lot better afterward. What if today’s session helps, too?”

The same goes for medication. If your friend wants to stop taking medication because of unpleasant side effects, be supportive, but encourage them to talk to their psychiatrist about switching to a different antidepressant or getting off medication entirely.

Abruptly stopping antidepressants without the supervision of a healthcare provider can have serious consequences.

4.Take care of yourself
When you care about someone who’s living with depression, it’s tempting to drop everything to be by their side and support them. It’s not wrong to want to help a friend, but it’s also important to take care of your own needs.

If you put all your energy into supporting your friend, you’ll have very little left for yourself. And if you’re feeling burned out or frustrated, you won’t be much help to your friend.

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