It can be tough finding the right thing to say to someone close who has depression. We’ve put together meaningful options for support.
Depression often makes us feel we’re worthless, like there’s no point to anything, or that we’re unlovable. This is far from the truth, but that can be hard to explain to someone who’s living with depression.
If you want to comfort a friend or loved one who has depression but you feel stuck, consider using these words of encouragement to connect with and support them.
Some common characteristics of depression include:
- feelings of hopelessness
- negative thoughts about yourself and the world
- difficulty functioning and doing typical daily activities
- sleep or appetite changes
If you know someone with depression, providing them encouragement, motivation, and support can go a long way to giving them hope and helping them get through difficult times.
Here are some phrases and ideas that might help you support a person you care about who has depression.
When you’re using these, it can help to stay mindful of your context. Only say something if it feels like it makes sense in the situation, and always be genuine and keep an open mind.
Listen and be sensitive to the person’s cues. If they don’t seem receptive, consider trying at a different time or taking a different approach.
‘It’s OK to not feel OK’
Whether your friend or loved one is currently getting treatment or hasn’t received a formal diagnosis, it’s OK if they’re not OK. Everyone has good and bad days. We all deserve some grace.
Sometimes, they might feel shame if they’re experiencing difficult feelings, so it might help to remind them that it’s OK to feel that way. Making it safe for them to express and sit with their real feelings in your presence can go a long way.
And just because right now is bad doesn’t mean later will be.
‘You’re not alone’
It’s easy to feel isolated if you have depression. Due to stigma, many people still don’t talk about mental health issues, which might lead your friend or loved one to feel even more alone.
You can remind your loved one that you’re here for them, and that depression is a very common mental health condition — many people experience it and have gotten through it.
If the person you care about thinks it might help to talk with others who are going through similar things, you could even help them find a support group.
‘You can move forward in the face of your depression’
Some people believe that having depression makes them “weak” or “broken.” The truth is that every day they get out of bed, go to work, or move forward while living with depression is proof of their ability to keep going.
Depression can feel like a weight on your chest. For some people, it can be a disability.
However, every day that someone keeps going while they’re living with depression is proof they can keep going.
‘I’m here for you, no matter what’
If your friend or loved one is feeling like they’re a burden or unworthy of your love, it can help to remind them that you’re going to be there for them, always — not just when things are going well.
‘Help is available’
When someone feels hopeless, it can seem like nothing will help relieve their symptoms.
But so many depression treatments exist, so reminding the person you care about of this and helping them seek help if they need it can make a huge difference.
‘Your story isn’t over’
If your friend or loved one is having suicidal thoughts, they may feel like there’s no point to living or that their life is already over.
But every day is another page in their story. While it may feel dark and hopeless at times — not to mention hard to remember the bright moments — there are good days coming and things to look forward to.
If you believe they’re considering suicide or self-harm
- See a list of Psych Central’s suicide prevention resources.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text 838255.
- Call 911 if you think there’s an immediate danger, but be sure to tell them it’s a mental health crisis in case they have available crisis intervention officers.
- If you’re with them, stay until help arrives. Remove any weapons or substances from your surroundings that could cause harm. If you’re not there, stay on the phone until help arrives.
- Listen but don’t judge, argue, yell, or threaten.
Whether you share these with your friend or write them on sticky notes to leave around their home, some of these uplifting quotes could bring a little hope and brightness to a loved one with depression.
There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.
One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through, and it will be someone else’s survival guide.
If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.
It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop.
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.
Alexander Graham Bell
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
And if today all you did was hold yourself together, I’m proud of you.
There’s no right thing to say to someone with depression. There are a number of ways you can encourage your friend, with or without words.
Here are some other ways you can support someone living with depression:
- Listen to them. Use active listening. Do not interrupt when they tell you about what they’re going through. Only offer advice if they ask for it.
- Stay in touch. Call, text, or visit with them in person regularly if you can. They may find it hard to reach out to you or others.
- Praise them. Tasks you might find easy may feel monumental to the person you care about who’s living with depression. Recognizing their efforts and offering genuine praise can make them feel good about the work they’re doing and what they’ve accomplished.
- Use empathetic body language. Your tone, facial expressions, and body language matter just as much as your words. For example, relax your hands on your lap instead of keeping your arms folded, make eye contact, and move your eyebrows to show empathy. Avoid body language that might seem defensive, aggressive, or disapproving.
- Tell them what they mean to you. You may want to comment on ways they’ve helped you in the past, what your friendship means to them, and how they’ve made a difference in your life.
- Support them in seeking help. Whether your person chooses to see a doctor for a diagnosis or find a therapist, you can offer to make a call, go with them to their appointment, or search online for a local therapist for them.
- Avoid toxic positivity. Telling someone with depression to just think positively, using generic platitudes like “Everything will be OK,” or focusing only on the good can be more alienating than helpful. While positive thinking can have benefits, it’s a lot easier said than done.
Remember that, at the end of the day, if someone you care about is experiencing depression, you can’t control how they’ll respond to your encouragement. Even if they appreciate your words, it might take them some time to recover, so try to be patient.
Simply being there with an open mind, practicing active listening, and offering your consistent support can make a huge difference.