People often ask me how to help a depressed friend. That depends.
If you are not super close, help a depressed friend by:
-Reaching out via text or with a card letting her know you are praying for and thinking of her.
-Leaving a small gift or a meal (without the expectation that she will open the door).
-Praying for them regularly.
If you are a bit closer, help a depressed friend by:
-Doing all of the above.
-Noticing when she is withdrawing (no longer attending church, events, or other activities he previously participated in).
-Taking a little more intentional action when you notice; call once a week. Text more often. Let her know she is loved and not alone.
-Inviting her out without the pressure of acceptance. If you are refused, try again (but give it time. It may feed into her guilt and anxiety).
-Dropping off a book or another thoughtful gift. For instance: a small box of encouraging quotes and verses.
If you are a very close, help a depressed by:
-Doing all of the above.
-Reminding her that getting out will help her get out her head.
-Standing there. Don’t give up on her. She needs support in and out of depressive episodes. While depressed, that support may be from afar. When she is doing better, she needs to know that she still has friends, that she isn’t judged, or considered a lost cause.
-Being more specific with Bible verses, direct encouragement, and gentle reminders of things that have helped her in the past during particularly difficult episodes. You’ve earned her trust to speak into her life. If you aren’t close enough to her, she will resent it.
-Telling someone. If she talks of self-harm or suicide but doesn’t want you to tell anyone, tell anyway.
-Expecting to run the show if she agrees to come out.
How exactly does that help a depressed friend? Let me explain:
Drive her to a coffee shop, pick where to sit, and order for her. Decisions can be grueling at times. If you want to talk, please do, but don’t expect interaction. You are responsible for the conversation. You will basically talk to yourself. No worries. Please keep talking. It helps. Cloudy thinking and interaction are very difficult.
Like I wrote in my book, Still Life, A Memoir of Living Fully with Depression, a friend equated socializing while one is depressed to running a marathon with a broken leg.
Please know that your friendship is a vital part of recovery. If you are a friend to someone with depression, thank you, thank you, thank you.
*NOTE: ‘Her’ stands for ‘Him,’ too.
Want to know more about my journey with Major Depressive Disorder? Check out my book:
*Interested in writing memoir? Checking out my online course: Memoir 101, Write a memoir worthy of publishing.