How friends can help when depression makes you “a hermit”

When I am struggling with depression the last thing I want to do is see, hear or speak to anyone.  I just want to roll up in my comforter and try to pretend that the world doesn’t exist.  I try to ignore the outside world if I hide my existence eventually the world will leave me alone.  WRONG!!  The harder I try to hide the harder my friends tried to break me out of my darkness.

There are steps you can take to help your loved one. Start by learning about depression and how to talk about it with your friend or family member. But as you reach out, don’t forget to look after your own emotional health. Thinking about your own needs is not an act of selfishness—it’s a necessity. Your emotional strength will allow you to provide the ongoing support your depressed friend or family member needs.

Encourage activity. Invite your loved one to join you in uplifting activities, like going to a funny movie or having dinner at a favourite restaurant. Exercise is especially helpful, so try to get your depressed loved one moving. Going on walks together is one of the easiest options. Be gently and lovingly persistent—don’t get discouraged or stop asking.

Never underestimate the power of a well-placed phone call.  Checking in with your friend on how they are coping, and/or feeling.  Maybe their depressive episode was triggered by a traumatic event.  They may need support someone to lend an ear or may someone to be moral support, and go with them to a doctor’s appointment, or counselling.

Listening to your friend and attempting to understand what your friend is going through is an important aspect of supporting them through recovery. Allow your friend to tell you about his or her feelings when he or she is ready.

Don’t pressure your friend into sharing. Just let them know that you are willing to listen when they are ready and give them time.

Be attentive as you listen to your friend. Nod and react appropriately to let them know that you are listening

Depression can make a person feel worthless, but you can use encouraging words to support your friend until your friend remembers his or her worth again. Say something encouraging to your friend every day to show that you care and that your friend is valuable to you and to others.

Give your friend hope by reminding them that the way they are feeling is only temporary. People who suffer from depression often feel like things will never get better, but you can remind them that this is not the case. Say something like, “You may not believe it now, but the way that you are feeling will change.”

Laughter is known as the best medicine for a reason. Recent studies have shown that laughter helps to alleviate the symptoms of depression and make people who are depressed feel more connected to others. You probably know what makes your friend laugh better than anyone else does, so make sure that you use that knowledge laugh with them on a regular basis.

 

karenKaren is a great listener and a solid shoulder to lean on. She has a degree in History and English and a diploma in Counselling Skills. She struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. She understands the importance of having someone to talk to about your struggles. She loves singing, researching her genealogy, cheering for her favorite hockey teams, swimming, hiking and spending time with friends.

You can follow Karen on Twitter.

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