2 Ways to Support a Depressed Friend

2 Ways to Support a Depressed Friend

2 Ways to Support a Depressed Friend

Depression is a common mental health issue with various symptoms that make it challenging to manage daily responsibilities. It is wide-reaching with the potential to impact the sufferer and their family and friends. One of the most common symptoms of depression is a disconnect that leads to isolation. It can seem nearly impossible to help a depressed person, but this is a symptom of the condition and not because they don’t deserve or need support.

If a friend suffers from depression, you may feel lost on how to help. Unfortunately, you are not a mental health professional, but you can still offer support as they seek care for their mental health. Our expert on counseling in Winter Park offers these ways to support a friend with suicidal ideation or depression.

Be available to talk about their issue

Sometimes it is difficult for a person with depression to talk about what they are going through because they are afraid of your reaction or can't put their feelings into words. This is especially true if they have suicidal thoughts. Create a safe space for them to open up about their thoughts and feelings in an empathetic way. Offer them an outlet to express their feelings by sharing how much you care. It is essential they feel safe confiding in you. You can do this with nonverbal engagement like nodding along while they talk, or you can use one of these verbal support techniques:

  • Cheerleading: This involves showing support through verbal expression. Say something like, “I am so proud of you for working so hard to make it through this. It is pretty inspiring.”
  • Normalizing: This is a way to help them feel less alone. Though the conversation is about them, connecting what they struggle with to others can help them discard self-judgment. Try saying, "I think most people feel overwhelmed when faced with situations like this.
  • Validating: This is a way to affirm their feelings. Try saying things like, “After what you went through last week, it is no surprise you are feeling sad.”

It can be beneficial to be ready with a few of these statements ahead of time just to come prepared because these conversations can be uncomfortable based on the topic. If you find yourself lost for words, try being honest and use a statement like, "To be honest, I am not sure what to say. I am happy you feel safe talking to me about this, and I am here for you."

Keep conversation openers ready

It is best to allow your friend to lead or open the conversation about their troubles. This helps them feel safe and in control. But when you notice significant struggles, checking in to see if they are okay may help. Open the conversation in a supportive, nonjudgmental way. Use open-ended, gentle questions to check in. Try these ideas:

  • “Hey, This is a bit random, but I want you to know I appreciate you, and I am here to talk about anything. Just let me know if you need me.”
  • “I know things have been rough lately with all the things you are dealing with. How are you feeling?”
  • “How are you managing everything? I want you to know I am always here if you need to talk.”
  • “How are things going? I noticed you are quieter than usual and want to make sure you are okay."

After providing an opening for them to talk to you, continue showing support by listening without interruption and letting them talk about their issues without shifting focus on yourself. If they tell you something surprising, react neutrally, so they do not feel judged. Remember, their sharing is courageous, and that says a lot about the closeness of your relationship.

These are a couple of excellent ways to support a friend with depression and allow them to talk about their struggle. If you struggle with depression or other issues that impact your daily life, counseling in Winter Park can help. Call us today to learn how we can help you feel better.

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Heather Oller

Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.