Written by DiveThru Team
Reviewed by Natalie Asayag MSW, LCSW
How To Support Someone With Depression
Published Oct 7th, 2020 & updated on Jan 19th, 2022
Oof! Depression. It’s more than just feeling sad. It can actually be incredibly debilitating for those who battle it. One day they can seem fine, the next, getting out of bed can feel like climbing a frickin’ mountain! Their room might become messy, they might forget to shower for a few days, and their meals might become strange, simple, or non-existent. Soooo yeah, we think it’s incredibly important to learn how to support someone with depression!
People who have depression need a lot of love and support. It’s nuanced and complicated, so you need to be well prepared to ride the depression wave while supporting your friend or loved one. There’s a lot of information out there on how to support someone with depression and it’s hard to know where to start. Andddd, that’s why we’re here! Consider us your emotional Gandalf, here to help guide you through the beginning of your supportive journey.
Make Sure You’re In a Good Space
First thing’s first! Make sure that YOU are in a good emotional and mental space before offering support to your friend. Having patience and kindness for someone with depression is important. But, you need to be in a healthy place so that you’re able to offer your friend the kind of unconditional love that they need.
Check-in with yourself and be honest. Do you have the emotional capacity to help your friend today? Are you mentally ready to help them carry the weight of their feelings? If not, that’s ok! Make sure that you’re ready for anything before you help your friend.
Learn About Depression
Become as informed as you possibly can be about depression. It’s different for everyone, so taking the time to learn about the ins and outs of depression is a great start to helping your loved one. Learn about how it affects people, what the symptoms of depression are, and even treatment options.
Learning about depression can also give you more empathy and a better understanding of what your friend is going through. You don’t need to become an expert on it, but having helpful information in your back pocket that you can rely on will be soooo beneficial. The more you know, the more you’ll be prepared to provide support for someone with depression!
Ask How You Can Support Them
Everyone likes to be supported in certain ways, and that goes for people with depression too. Some might say that they want you to help them find treatment options, help them get groceries, cleaning up their home, or simply sit on the couch and watch a really cheesy movie with them (Netflix Christmas rom-coms, anyone?). Asking someone how you can help them when they’re depressed is the best way to know how to effectively support them.
What they need might also change, so check in with them regularly and make sure that the help you’re giving is the kind that they want. Also, let your friend know that it’s ok if and when their needs change. Tell them to communicate openly and honestly with you so that you’re able to cheer them on!
Listen to Their Feelings
Sometimes a good cry and vent session can mean everyyythingggg to someone with depression (OMG that rhymes!). They can feel so alone and isolated and like they’ll be a burden if they talk about their feelings.
Give them a shoulder to cry on and an ear that’s open to listening to what they have to say. And be sure that you TRULY listen. People with depression sometimes think that their problems don’t matter, so someone who is there to validate their feelings and hear what they have to say can be a game-changer for them.
They might not always need advice, so ask if they want to hear your thoughts or if they just need to unload their brain onto someone else.
Being a safe and judgement-free person that they can turn to in their darkest times can help out someone with depression more than you know.
Help Them with Self Care
When someone is depressed, self care doesn’t always come in the form of bubble baths, candles, and a glass of wine. Sometimes it is, but other times it’s cleaning up a messy room, making appointments, paying bills, and taking a shower for the first time in a few days. Our TikTok Queen, Brittany Broski, illustrated this perfectly with her depression meal check.
Being there to help someone with the tasks that are too overwhelming for them can help get the self care ball rolling, no matter how slowly, but rolling nonetheless.
Here at DiveThru, we loooove therapy. It’s a fantastic tool to help you get your mind back on track and have a professional walk you through some really tough shit. Seeking help from a mental health professional is sometimes seen as a sign of weakness when it’s actually the opposite.
It takes a lot of strength to admit that you can’t go on your mental health journey all alone. If your friend doesn’t know where to start looking when it comes to treatment options, offer to sit down and look with them. Figure out together how to choose a therapist.
Do some research on therapy, medication, mindfulness, the whole 9 yards! Encourage them to seek treatment, and even offer to take them to their first few sessions. Having you there will be comforting to your friend who will likely be nervous as fuck if it’s their first time in therapy!
Therapy can also be hella expensive. We won’t sugar coat it! However, there are some clinics that are able to accommodate a lower budget. Looking up affordable therapy options can be a helpful step in the right direction.
Don’t Take It Personally
Your friend or loved one might try to push you away when you offer your help. You might be met with resistance, and they might even completely reject the help that you’re offering. Be prepared for your friend to potentially try and isolate themselves from you, and possibly say some hurtful things as well.
It might be hard, but try not to take this personally. They’re going through a lot that you might not know about or completely understand. So, forgive them, love them, and stick by their side no matter what!
Love, Love, Love Them
Your friend is going to need some loving. A lot of it. Unconditionally.
You know how your pet loves you no matter what? You need to be that for your friend. Not a pet (obviously), but a source of unconditional love. When someone has depression, they can sometimes feel unlovable or not worthy of receiving love from others. You need to show them that you do love and care about them regardless of what their depression might be telling them.
Sit with them in their most painful and uncomfortable times. Emotions are hard and they’re often difficult to address, especially on your own. Showing your friend love and kindness might help them seek out treatment, and even help them start to show a little bit of love to themselves.
But remember that you need to take care of yourself too! Your mental health and wellbeing need to be looked after just as much as your friend’s. It might be hard to set boundaries and take time for yourself, but showing up for yourself means that you’ll be able to better show up for your friend.
There you have it! You’re not an expert but now you know a few ways to provide help for someone with depression. Remember, depression can feel like a never-ending battle for everyone involved so keep your head up, keep fighting the good fight and encourage your friend to go to therapy. We promise, it’s really fucking awesome.