Having suffered from depression myself, I consider myself something of an expert on this. So indulge me.
1.The first rule of How To Talk to Someone Suffering From Depression is NOT to talk.
Listen. And make sure you are listening. They may have something important to reveal, they may not. The point is, you need to make them think that it’s important to you, not boring.
If they think you are bored or not listening. They won’t talk to you again, they may not talk to anyone again and so get worse.
2. Don’t try to fix the problem. This person is depressed, not stupid. They don’t NEED a solution. They NEED to feel better. Chances are they will still be depressed when the problem is fixed. That’s how depression works.
3. Don’t tell them to “snap out of it”, “cheer up”, “look on the bright side”, “think how lucky they are” or “think positive thoughts”.
That’s the last thing they need to hear.
This will make them feel worse, like a failure, like an idiot and most of all they will feel like they will never feel happy again.
And do you know how patronising it sounds? Very, so seriously, don’t.
They know how lucky they are, depression doesn’t develop just because something sad happened. And it doesn’t go away when something happy happens, not overnight anyway.
The problem is, they can see how lucky they are, they can see there is a bright side but the lack of the right chemical to the brain is stopping them from feeling good or happy. This is frustrating and makes the person feel worse.
They feel sad,
You tell them they have no reason to feel sad,
This makes them feel frustrated then even more sad.
And it goes on like this in a nasty vicious little circle.
Then what happens is they stop telling you when they feel sad,
they pretend everything is ok when it’s really not, just to get your patronising butt off their back.
It’s when they stop communicating that bad things can happen.
As for positive thinking, not possible, they’re depressed remember. Duh!
Why not try telling them positive fun things from your day, try to make them laugh.
Take some focus away from what is bothering them for a while. Don’t disregard it totally, just offer some distraction.
They might feel jealous or resentful at how happy everyone else is, but exposure to a little joy is a good way of getting those good chemicals sparking up a bit.
4. Let them know its ok to express how they feel, what ever they feel and that they won’t feel this way forever. Every time someone says this I little ray of hope shines and the will to push on another day can be found.
There is no right or wrong to how a person feels regardless of mental health. Even if you don’t suffer from depression, we all have our bad days. No one can dictate how something makes you feel.
5. Most importantly. Don’t judge. In order for this person make a recovery they need to feel secure. If they think that you will laugh at them, or hate them they won’t tell you a thing. And remember, it’s when they stop communicating that bad things can happen.
Paranoia is a big part of depression. We always think someone is talking about us, saying negative things, judging us and ridiculing us. That’s a tough place to be, because who do you turn to?
6. Once your friend is feeling better and they will, remember how they were (in case they relapse) but enjoy how they are now. Don’t remind them just support them as they heal. They won’t forget how you helped them, they just might not want to talk about it for a while.
I hope this was insightful. I doubt you enjoyed it, but that’s not why I wrote it.
I wrote this to raise awareness, spread the word, spread the love. Help me out.