If you have a friend or family member living with depression, it may feel hard and confusing to know what to say to them. Sometimes, even the most well-intentioned advice might come out wrong and do more harm than good.

To help you navigate these waters, our team took the time to craft some guidelines for talking with a loved one struggling with depression. Keep reading to discover these helpful hints.

Understanding depression

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), roughly 8% of adults have major depression. While that may seem like a small percentage, that accounts for nearly 21 million people in the United States. Knowing this, it’s important to remember that depression is not uncommon, and there is nothing wrong with the person in your life struggling with depression.

Even though being there for your friend or loved one won’t magically cure them, your words will make a difference. Offering your support through your words can and will make a huge difference on their pathway to recovery. Once you recognize your loved one needs you, the next step is figuring out what to say to them.

Remind them they aren’t alone

Withdrawing from others might look a little different for everyone living with depression, but it remains a common thread. Using your words to remind your loved ones that they are not alone is a huge step you can take.

Let them know that you are someone that they can count on and that you will be available for lending an ear. This reminder will help them remember that they do not have to tackle their depression alone.

Validate their feelings

This may seem counterintuitive. The very nature of depression is that it gives us false thoughts about ourselves and our situation. However, if your friend says “I wish I wasn’t this way” or “I hate that I think this way,” remind them that it is a natural response to a chemical imbalance. This removes some of the weight off of themselves and places it on an outside factor, their brain chemistry.

Let them know you understand–only if you do

Although relating to your friend with depression might feel like a good idea, unless you have dealt with depression in the same way, your comparisons might feel trivializing. Sometimes the best of intentions come out wrong in situations like this.
If you have not truly been through a similar situation, let your loved one know that while you may not completely understand, you still support them. Your support is the most important part.

Ask them how you can help

Your loved one with depression might feel as if they are a burden on everyone they care about. By offering your help, you remove this roadblock so your friend does not have to directly ask you for help.

They will likely be unwilling to accept help due to a fear of becoming a burden to you. In this situation, remind them that you are happy to help in any way you can and that you know they would behave similarly if the roles were reversed.

Recommend they seek help

Talk therapy and proper medication are both safe and effective ways to treat depression. There is a certain stigma surrounding mental health treatment, but assure your friend that they should not be afraid to ask for assistance. Depression is an illness. Professional help is a viable way to treat it. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that respect.

If you need further help speaking with your loved one or you think they are ready to speak with a professional, reach out to our team today. We are here to help. Remember, you are never alone.