Depression is a complex illness. It’s also changeable, debilitating and confusing. And that’s for the person who is struggling. When we support someone with depression, we might feel useless, especially if you’ve not experienced mental ill health ourselves. You may struggle to find the right words, feel as though you’re treading on eggshells and be a little unsettled as the person you care about has changed.
We asked our wonderful community for some advice – we asked them for practical and emotional ways to support someone who has depression.
This is what they had to say:
Phil Swales Be there for them. In person, not in spirit.
Anon don’t judge, when someone is depressed they find the simplest things difficult, just because it’s easy for you it isn’t easy for them.
Anon Just ask how they are from time to time and be ready to listen. But dont feel under pressure to provide answers.
Elaine Gardener Don’t tell them what to do. Allow them to talk if they want. They don’t necessarily need answers, just someone to listen but remember, When your brain is ill, there is no logical thinking.
Anon Don’t tell them ‘just get on with it’ or ‘don’t let it win’ or ‘if it were me I would…’
Stuart Middleton Be there for them and give them someone to talk to. When they start to withdraw its normally because they are struggling so try and reach out.
Phil Swales Know that just because you can’t see someone’s depression, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It is. All the time.
Sarah Myers Contact them, (when I get bad I go quiet, someone getting in touch with me would help). Also just be normal. Let them know you’re there for them and if they they can talk to you about the depression but that you both can also just spend time watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy or Pretty Little Liars (‘normal’ everyday things you would do).
Frieda Blenkinslop Don’t panic, don’t take it personally, don’t necessarily search for reasons or solutions, don’t judge. Do befriend, sit alongside, let someone know ur there should they need, hold quiet hope, tell them they are loved, that u will hold their hand in the darkness and hold the knowledge that there is a light out there somewhere x
Andrew J Chisholm Never say well its not that bad and pull your socks up. And when I am really down I listen to or watch my favourite comedian in concert mainly Robin Williams.
Carlyn Crum Ask how they can help. I don’t know how many times I have to remind my partner he hasn’t actually asked how he can help when he says he doesn’t know how…
Sherry Spillane Just be there! Help them to do their daily tasks, rather than do them for them. (I really would have appreciated having someone to help me go through paper work etc when I just couldn’t deal with it, it would have been great to have someone to help me sift through it all). If they find it difficult going out to the shops, go with them etc.
Anon What I would most like is quite simple – it’s a hug. Just a hug, no answers, no suggestions, just a hug that says “I’m here, you’re not alone”.
Elaine Gardener Give them something nice like some sleep balm, some bath salts, some tea, or splash out and get them a Blurt BuddyBox to let them.know you’re thinking of them. Small things will let them know you’re there.
Jill Freeman Never ask a depressed person WHY they are depressed. Most of the time we don’t know. Just be there with a hand, an ear or a hug.
Jackie Davies Never make assumptions, depression is different tor everyone.
Jayne Hardy If you don’t understand what I’m going through, I really don’t mind you asking me questions – I’d much rather that than depression being the “elephant in the room”.
Eddi Newick Just be there and don’t give up on the person, however hard things get. They need you more than you know.
Anon don’t wait for them to make contact because that is sooooo hard sometimes. Pick up the phone and call them or send a text . It’s amazing how that will help even if they can’t reply they know you are thinking about them.
Krissi Asher A cup of tea and a hug can make everything different.
Laura Caillouet Boyles A friend cooked a big pot of food for us every week so she knew we were eating a decent meal and could take a break from one of the major daily family chores. It meant so much. Another friend always makes a cuppa or two or three when he comes over. So I don’t think: oh no, I have to be a good host; just oh, cup of tea, bonus!
Anon sometimes you don’t want to talk you just want company, just not to be on your own. A hug would be nice too.
Laura Caillouet Boyles Also, when I let HR at work know it was okay for people to know why I was off, they sent me a card, which made me feel less of a pariah. I know that’s a sensitive one, but even if they don’t say why you’re off, knowing people care instead of just facing a void of silence really helped.
Sam Stockdale Just be there. Sometimes just having someone there, even if they are silent means the everything. Depression is a lonely world
Jayne Hardy Depression makes me feel unworthy of help, I find it impossible to ask for help so if you see I’m struggling, asking me how you can help, and meaning it, makes the world of difference.
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