Depression: What Helps and What Doesn't

Depression, whether long term or a short episode, affects a lot of people. It can be triggered by circumstances present or past, or come out of nowhere and hit its victim like a brick thrown out a window.

If you have a friend suffering from depression, they need you now more than ever. But there are also a few things it could be helpful for you to understand about what they’re going through.

1 | Depression is a very real condition, caused by changes in brain chemistry.

What your friend is going through is a physical ailment to the way their brain functions. It isn’t something they can “think themselves out of” or “get over.” Depression is treatable, and your friend should go to a doctor about it.

2 | They will likely say no when you invite them to things. Don’t stop inviting them.

One of the best ways to show them you care for them is to continue inviting them to participate in life, despite the many times they’ll turn your offer down. When they say no, they aren’t saying no to you. They aren’t rejecting you. They’re speaking a truth they feel about their inability to join you in that event. Continue inviting them and engaging with them, and do your best not to take their rejection personally.

3 | They will feel intense, negative emotions.

As your friend deals with depression, they will need a support system. Check in on them. Spend time with them one on one. Let them talk to you. Show your love for them. By being a consistent, caring presence in their life without pressuring them to get better while encouraging them to move toward healing, you can shine a light into the darkness they feel.
So what can you do? What helps? What should you avoid?

Things to avoid:
  • Getting frustrated or lashing out at them. Their brains are blaming them for a lot of things that aren’t their fault already.
  • Telling them it’s all in their head and they just need to be more positive.
  • Ignoring their depression.
  • Focusing too much on their depression.
  • Giving up on them.
Things that can help:
  • Remind them of their value.
  • Invite them to the things you’re going to.
  • Open the door for them to talk about what they’re going through.
  • Offer encouragement, especially through tactile things they can hold on to, such as notes or a small gift that says they’re on your mind.
  • Help them know that they don’t have to hide their emotions.
  • Remind them that they don’t have to fight this battle alone.
  • Pray with them.
  • Follow them on their ups and downs. Every day will be different. Some days they’ll be better than others. Take your cues from them.

If you have other questions about how you can help someone through depression, please reach out to a doctor or a counselor. You can also request Care Ministry services here.