Lots of people experience depression, while others just have bad days or just are feeling down on themselves. No matter why they’re depressed, sad, or unmotivated to do much of anything, one thing is certain — it’s a tough feeling to experience. Depression is isolating — like you’re all alone in it, and that it will never end.
As a friend or partner of someone who’s experiencing that depression or feeling blue, what can you do to help? After all, there’s a lot of advice telling you what not to say to a depressed person and things that most people don’t want to hear when they’re feeling down.
We crowd-sourced the following list by querying our Facebook friends about what they’d like to hear when they’re feeling down, blue, or depressed. Here are a few of their very, very good suggestions.
1. You’re right, this sucks.
The generalization is that men are problem solvers, and women are listeners. People who are depressed don’t want problem solvers — they’ve usually run through all the scenarios and solutions in their head already. They just can’t do it.
What they’re looking for instead is simple acknowledgement and empathy.
2. You don’t walk this path alone. I’m here if you need me.
When a person is depressed, one of the feelings many people experience is an overwhelming sense of loneliness — that no one can understand what they’re going through. They are all alone.
A reminder from a friend or loved one that, indeed, they’re not alone and they are loved can be invaluable. It also reminds them of the reality — that people in their life do love them and are there for them if they need them.
3. I believe in you… You’re awesome!
Sometimes a person has given up hope that they’ll amount to anything in life. They’ve lost all belief in themselves, and feel like nothing they do is right or good enough. Their self-esteem is, in a word, shot.
That’s why it can be helpful to reaffirm that you believe in them. You believe in their ability to once again experience hope, to be the person you once were — or even more. That they are still an awesome person, if even if they’re not feeling that way at the moment.
4. How can I help? What can I do for you?
One part of the way many people experience depression is that they have little motivation to do things that need to get done. Offer your support and direct assistance in getting something done for them. It might be picking up a prescription, a few groceries from the store, or simply getting the mail. Offer this help only if you’re willing to do what is asked of you.
5. I’m here if you want to talk (walk, go shopping, get a bit to eat, etc.).
This is more of a direct suggestion, choosing something that you know the friend or loved one is going to be interested in doing. Maybe they just want to talk (and need you to simply listen). Maybe they need a nudge to get up, get changed, and go out and just do something — anything. You can be that person to help them get moving.
6. I know it’s hard to see this right now, but it’s only temporary… Things will change. You won’t feel this way forever. Look to that day.
When a person’s depressed, sometimes they lose all perspective. Depression can feel like an endless black hole in which there’s no way to climb out of. Saying something along these lines reminds them that all of our emotions and moods are not permanent, even if they feel like they are.
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