Start the Conversation
If someone in your life has been displaying the symptoms above and you're concerned for their well-being, it's important to talk to them about it.
They may be already getting treatment but letting them know that you're there for them is important; it's good for them to have people they can trust for support.
It can be difficult to start a conversation like this because there's often a lot of emotion involved, but by letting them know that you're looking out for their health and their best interest, you should be able to get the conversation started.
Honest communication is essential when helping someone with depression as it shows that you're trustworthy and supportive.
Talking to Your Loved One
It can difficult to find the words when helping someone with depression. You are probably worried they may get angry with you, feel insulted or ignore your concerns altogether.
The following suggestions might help with talking to your loved one:
- Try to be a good listener. Listening is far more important than giving advice or trying to fix someone. Often the simple act of talking to someone with depression and encouraging them to share their feelings without judgment goes a long way.
- Have more than one conversation. A single conversation won’t fix everything because depressed people tend to withdraw. You need to keep showing up and expressing your concern and willingness to hear what they need to talk about.
- Find the right words. Starting the conversation isn’t always easy, and you might not know the right words.
- Be supportive. By saying the right things, it shows your friend or family member they are loved and that they are not alone in what they are feeling.
Starting the conversation by saying something like, "I'd like to talk to you because I'm concerned. I've noticed some changes in your behavior, and I want to make sure that you're okay," is a great start.
This is an excellent way to express how you're feeling and takes some of the pressure off them. Referring to yourself and saying "I've noticed" or "I'm concerned" immediately lets them know that you care and are there for support.
What to Say
If someone you love has told you that they are suffering from depression, it can be difficult to know what to say, especially if you haven't experienced a depressive episode or been close to someone experiencing depression.
Don't be afraid to ask questions; this is an excellent way to show that you're interested. Hearing the information directly from them is also helpful for you, as you will likely have a better understanding of what they are experiencing.
Here are some ideas of what to say to initiate a conversation:
- When did it start?
- Did something happen to trigger it?
- Have you experienced this before?
- Have you looked into treatment options?
- What can I do to help you?
- How can I best show my support?
- I have noticed you have been feeling down, so I wanted to check in.
- You're not alone in this; I am here for you if you need me.
- I may not understand what you're going through, but I will do my best to help when I can.
What Not to Say
Starting a conversation with, "You've been acting different," or something similar puts a direct focus on them and may come across as being confrontational.
Do your best to avoid complaining or negative conversation; it could come across as being insensitive or potentially add to their mood. Don’t avoid negative phrases like "cheer up" or "lighten up" if they are complaining.
Here are some additional things to not say:
- We all get sad sometimes.
- It’s all in your head.
- Look on the bright side.
- Snap out of it.
- What’s wrong with you?
- Why aren’t you better yet?