LIFE

Ten Simple Ways To Support Someone With Depression

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Depression is a serious mental health issue that affects up to 20 percent of the world’s population at some point in their lives.

It’s a tough illness to pin down, as it manifests differently in different people, and even to this day isn’t always considered a “real” disorder.

However, it’s often characterized by prolonged feelings of sadness, anxiety, and emptiness and an overall diminished sense of well-being. People with depression may lose interest in activities or hobbies that they once liked, over- or under-eat, and have trouble sleeping.

We’re still not exactly sure what causes depression, but it’s very real and touches millions of lives every day.

If you’ve never experienced it personally, chances are you know someone who has.

And it’s not just humans who are susceptible — other animals, especially dogs, have been known to experience this disorder.

If you know someone with depression, you probably want to help out. But when dealing with someone else’s mental health, you have to be careful. Sometimes, even if we mean well, we can do more harm than good if we say something thoughtlessly.

Below are 10 simple things to consider if someone you love is going through depression. They might seem small, but they can make a world of difference!

Support Tip #1: Avoid Telling Them To "Just Think Positive"

Support Tip #1: Avoid Telling Them To "Just Think Positive"
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

It can be easy to fall into this trap. We’re told so often that simply choosing to be happy will lead to happiness, but when someone has depression, it’s not quite that simple.

After all, no one decides to have depression, and if they could snap themselves out of it, they would!

Telling someone to simply stop feeling depressed can actually make things worse, and make the person with depression feel as though they’re doing something wrong. So don’t do it!

Support Tip #2: Try Reaching Out First

Support Tip #2: Try Reaching Out First
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Sometimes, people with depression become withdrawn and reduce or cut off contact with friends and loved ones.

If you’re concerned about someone, but haven’t heard from them, try giving them a call.

A simple, “I was thinking of you” call can make a huge difference in someone’s day, and show them that people still care about them.

Support Tip #3: Validate Their Experiences

Support Tip #3: Validate Their Experiences
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

One of the best things you can do for anyone is to listen to them.

You may not be able to relate to their experiences, especially if you’ve never gone through depression, but that’s OK.

Simply telling someone that you believe them is a great way of showing support.

Support Tip #4: Be Sensitive With What You Talk About

Support Tip #4: Be Sensitive With What You Talk About
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Sometimes certain subjects are difficult for people with depression to handle, especially if their depression stems from a traumatic event.

In this case, try to be considerate with what you talk about with them.

If you’re unsure about what might be a touchy subject, let them lead the conversation. If you feel comfortable enough with the person, you also can always ask if something is OK to talk about.

Support Tip #5: Stay In Touch And Check In Regularly

Support Tip #5: Stay In Touch And Check In Regularly
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Reaching out one time is great, but regular contact is even more helpful.

It shows your loved one that you really care about their well-being, and also provides them with some stability in an otherwise uncertain time.

You can schedule a day to call, text, or get together, or you can just drop them a line whenever you feel it’s been a while.

Support Tip #6: Make Sure They're Getting Enough Sleep

Support Tip #6: Make Sure They're Getting Enough Sleep
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Insomnia is often a symptom of depression, and lack of sleep can trigger depression. Talk about a vicious cycle!

Making sure someone else is taking care of themselves physically can be a delicate subject, because ultimately, the person you’re talking to has the final say about their habits. You’re not their parent, so avoid acting like it.

But gently bringing up the amount of sleep they get can help them reassess their sleep habits and hopefully make healthy choices.

Support Tip #7: Give As Continuous Support As You Can

Support Tip #7: Give As Continuous Support As You Can
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Depression can make people feel like they’re pushing their loved ones away, or that they’ve been abandoned. That means that being a constant makes a world of difference.

It also means that your role in their life may change as they learn about and deal with their depression, so be flexible.

Support Tip #8: Learn About Depression

Support Tip #8: Learn About Depression
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

Depression is still kind of nebulous, and it manifests differently in different people. That means that there are a lot of myths and stereotypes surrounding it.

Learning about depression will make you better understand how and why your loved one may be acting a certain way, as well as deepen your understanding of the signs of depression.

Support Tip #9: Encourage Them To Seek Professional Help

Support Tip #9: Encourage Them To Seek Professional Help
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

You can help a lot, but there’s only so much you can do for a loved one, even if you do have a background in psychology!

Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of stigma about seeking professional mental help, which can prevent some people from getting it, even if it’s needed.

Let your friend know that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and that a professional can offer many different treatment options.

Support Tip #10: Take Care Of Yourself

Support Tip #10: Take Care Of Yourself
Tayra Lucero for LittleThings

As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

If you’re not feeling your best, then you can’t really help someone else. So take some time to make sure you’re OK.

Being a supporter can be taxing, and it’s OK to step back for a moment if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

It doesn’t mean you’re not a good friend or that you don’t care, it just means you need to look out for your own health, too.

Know your limits, and don’t spread yourself too thin.

Remember, if you or someone you know suffers from depression, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor — and always reach out if you need help.

Please SHARE if you think it’s important to be educated, sensitive, and respectful about depression!