Suffering from anxiety or depression can be overwhelming, but it can be equally upsetting not to know how to help someone struggling with the condition. You might feel confused, frustrated, or even afraid you might say or do something that would make matters worse.
People with depression or anxiety may even be unaware of their condition. Without understanding the symptoms, affected individuals may mistake their feelings for normal or dismiss them as a passing phase. The stigma associated with seeking therapy for depression may also drive some people to attempt treatment on their own.
It can be challenging to know how to help someone suffering from depression or anxiety. Still, you’re already a wonderful friend simply by wanting to be there for them.
Here are five things to consider when helping a loved one suffering from depression or anxiety.
If you have never experienced anxiety or depression, empathizing with someone who has it can be incredibly challenging. Finding out more about the condition is an excellent first step as this will help you better understand what your loved one is going through and how they feel.
It takes more than just essential oils to relieve anxiety and depression. There are many helpful resources online about these mental health issues. So, do some research, and you’ll be better prepared to help and support your friend. Learn more about what anxiety or depression is and how to identify the symptoms.
Don’t Belittle Their Pain
When a friend expresses their feelings, pay attention and take them seriously. Depression is more than just having a bad day or feeling hopeless. It is a debilitating disease that may have a negative impact on every aspect of a person’s life.
Here are some of the worst things to say to someone with anxiety or depression:
- Get over it.
- It’s all just in your head.
- Why do you allow every little thing to bother you?
- Why can’t you see the bright side?
- Maybe you just need a drink.
- A lot of people have it worse than you.
These comments invalidate what they’re experiencing and brush over the fact that they are battling a serious disorder and not just some weakness.
Often, sitting quietly and communicating your support through nonverbal clues is more helpful than trying to figure out the right words to say.
Be There and Listen
When people suffer from depression, they often have feelings of isolation. They may believe they have no one to confide in about their problems. You can tell someone that you have a terrible headache and immediately get some sympathy, but it’s far more difficult for someone depressed to express their feelings.
Be there for your friend, and encourage them to talk about what they’re experiencing and feeling. However, don’t try to solve their depression. Your friend’s condition is not for you to fix. Just be there for them—being present and listening to them may help them feel heard and understood.
Rather than sharing your concerns about the possible symptoms of depression, use these phrases to help lift their spirit and boost their morale:
- I am here for you.
- You’re not alone in this.
- Tell me what I can do to help.
- I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I want to help you.
Offer to Help with Daily Tasks
Depressed individuals tend to neglect their daily responsibilities. You may discover that they don’t have enough food in their home, have piles of dirty dishes or clothes to wash, or they’ve fallen behind paying their bills.
While you cannot cure your friend’s depression, you can offer to help them with the tasks they may find daunting, such as grocery shopping, laundry, or creating an online account for them to help pay their bills on time. You can even offer to take a short stroll around the block with them to get them moving.
It’s also helpful to establish a daily routine to improve their mood. You can encourage your friend to make the stroll a daily habit. Regular physical activity can help reduce anxiety and release endorphins that contribute to a positive mindset.
Encourage Them to Get Help
It can be difficult to encourage treatment, especially if the individual denies having depression or anxiety. However, depression or anxiety seldom resolves on its own and may potentially get worse over time.
You can offer support by encouraging your loved one to consult with a health expert. You can volunteer to book the appointment for them and even accompany them to the session if they want. Help them make a list of questions to ask the doctor or psychotherapist.
Additionally, there are support groups that can help. If your friend is not yet ready to meet with someone in person, you may recommend hotlines or online chat-based helplines.
Dealing with depression or anxiety is difficult, both for the person suffering from the illness and for their friends and family. The most important thing you can do for a loved one with the condition is to be there for them.
Be present for your friend—but remember that it’s equally important to attend to your own needs. By taking care of yourself, you will be in a better mental and physical state, allowing you to better support those around you.