What to say when someone you know is depressed

It’s hard to know what to say when someone you know is suffering from depression or anxiety. Too often what we have to say seems trite or awkward, or we can be unintentionally hurtful.

If your friend or family member is sharing their depression with you, here are a few things that may help.

“How can I help?”

Often times, people with depression can struggle with more than just sadness. During a depressive episode, it can be difficult to keep up with things around the house, such as daily chores, cooking, and shopping.

While you may not be equipped to help your friend or relative get out of their depression, you can ease the stress a bit by offering to help them prepare a meal, bring clothes to the laundry, or to sweep up a bit so that things don’t happen. Not so overwhelming.

“I hear you”

Rather than jumping straight into giving advice, it can be helpful to just let someone with depression know that you are listening. Often times, people who experience mental health symptoms can feel unheard of or lost.

They may feel like no one is really listening to what they are feeling or that they are bothering people with their story. Instead of trying to ‘fix’ the problem right away or say you know how they’re feeling, this can be helpful and validate just so someone knows you’re all ears.

“You are strong”

People with depression sometimes feel like they are weak or that something is wrong with them. Make sure that the loved one who is showing symptoms of depression or anxiety is seen as a strong person, especially to “come out” and be open about what they are facing.

“You count”

A common symptom of depression is an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness or futility. A person with depression may feel that what they are doing is unnecessary or that they lack motivation, connection and direction.

Make sure the person in your life with depression knows they are important to you and that their life is meaningful.

“Have you talked to your therapist or doctor about this?”

You shouldn’t push someone with depression beyond their limits, but suggesting therapy or medication in a gentle way can be a good idea. Consider asking someone if they’ve talked to their primary care doctor (or current counselor or therapist, if they already have one) about their feelings.

A trained professional is the best person to talk to if you have mental health symptoms.

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