7 Ways To Support A Depressed Friend
It may surprise you that around 1 in 5 adults in the UK have experienced depression at some point in their lives. With statistics like this, everybody most likely has a friend in their circle that is struggling with their mental health. While they may not always be interested in attending events in your man cave, it is important to still take extra steps to support a pal who is struggling. Below, we will list some ways you might be able to support your mate, or anyone else that you think is struggling with depression.
Learn about what your friend is going through
Not totally sure what depression or anxiety is, or how to help a friend with depression or anxiety? A really great first step in helping your friend is to find out more about depression, anxiety or any other mental health struggles your friend is going through. This step will begin to give you insight into how your friend’s mental health is being affected, and give a broader degree of context around the topic.
Having this knowledge around the topic before speaking to your friend may allow you to have a better understanding of what your friend is going through, and what can potentially be done to help them. By having an understanding of mental health struggles as a whole, you can find an appropriate path to go down when it comes to trying to help them.
Look for the signs
Feeling a bit down from time to time is quite normal for a lot of us, but it is important to be able to tell the difference between this, and someone that is seriously struggling with depression. Depression has a lot of potential symptoms, and by being able to identify them, you allow yourself to help your friend at a much earlier stage. Here are the potential symptoms to look out for if you believe your friend has depression (Credit: NHS):
- Has lost interest in doing things they normally enjoy
- Seems to be feeling down or hopeless
- Has slower speech and movements or is more fidgety and restless than usual
- Feels tired or does not have much energy
- Is overeating or has lost their appetite
- Is sleeping more than usual or is not able to sleep
- Has trouble concentrating on everyday things, such as watching TV or reading the paper
Be Open and Listen
It can be hard to know what to say to a depressed or anxious friend. If your friend feels like talking, ask them how they’re doing. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is ask a broad and general question and just lend them an ear. Listening can be heavily underrated in these situations and may give your friend an outlet to speak their mind. This may not help them, but it is definitely worth investing your time to listen to what your friend has to say.
You could start the conversation by asking questions such as: ‘It seems like things have been hard for you lately. What’s on your mind?’ or ‘What can I do to help?’. You know your friend better than us, so it may even help to just ask them questions about their hobbies, and engage in conversation this way.
Take their feelings and responses seriously
We know that in a man cave, banter and jokes can be thrown around between friends, but these conversations should be taken as seriously as possible. It can be difficult for some people suffering with their mental health to open up, so the gravity of their words should definitely be felt, especially from a trusted friend.
If you’re not too sure how you can help a friend with depression or anxiety, it might be good to just ask them (if you deem it appropriate). You could also offer them some options and let them choose whichever suits them better on the day. For example, you could offer to lend an ear and just listen to them for a while, or you could ask them if there are any activities they’d like to do that day (even invite them for a few games of pool in your man cave if they would like to).
It is important to maintain the level of friendship you already have, and being caring, compassionate and a good listener will definitely help with this.
Help them to find support
Although there are many support systems out there for people suffering from mental health issues, many people that are going through these struggles do not actually know about the support systems available to them. Even with the amount of support that is available around mental health today, it can still be an intimidating prospect to speak to a healthcare specialist.
It cannot always be easy to persuade your friend to seek help from a healthcare professional, but it is important to let them know about the support systems available to them and give them the tools to start the process of seeking help. Giving gentle pushes in the right direction towards a healthcare professional can be a big step into accelerating their recovery, and could potentially lead to getting them the help that they may not know they need. Look for different helplines and support groups that may be available to them, and keep them informed about these resources.
Offer to help with everyday tasks
With depression, day-to-day tasks can feel overwhelming and can be too much for an individual. Completing simple tasks like doing your laundry, getting the weekly shop in, or paying your bills can begin to pile up and only add to the stress they may be feeling, making it hard to know where or how to get started. Your friend may thank you for the offer of help with these tasks, but again may be able to tell you what they specifically need help with.
So, instead of saying “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” consider saying, “What do you most need help with today?”. This is more likely to provoke a constructive response and may lead to them reaching out for help on a more regular basis, giving you an avenue to help them further. If you notice their cupboards are empty, say “Can I take you shopping?”. This acts as a double positive as it doesn’t only prompt your friend to ask for help, but also opens up the door to potentially doing regular day-to-day activities together.
Take care of yourself!
It can be quite scary and intense at times to see someone you care about experiencing depression or anxiety. Sometimes, some pretty dark things could come up in conversation, and it is important to help yourself through this process as it is your friend. You can be there for your friend, but it’s equally just as important to do things that keep your well-being in a healthy state. Helping yourself can have the knock-on effect of equally helping your friend too. By taking care of yourself, you will be in a better place mentally, and this allows you to better support your friends in need.
Depression is a horrible thing to have to deal with. Both for the person suffering from the illness and for their friends and family. The most important thing you can do for a friend with depression is to be there for them. Sometimes they may not want to speak, and sometimes they may try to shut themselves away from the world. But, this makes it all the more important to be a part of their support system in their time of need. Many men do not open up about their mental health struggles, so always keep an eye out and act proactively if you think they may have depression. This could be anything down to simply inviting them to your man cave to chill out for a while. After all, isn’t that what mates are for?