12 Helpful Things to Say to a Depressed Friend from Mental Health Experts (2023)



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24. September 2022

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Por Georgina Berbari

Contributing author of MBG

Georgina Berbari is a multidisciplinary artist, Yoga Alliance RYT-200 yoga and meditation teacher, and graduate of Columbia University's Master of Creative Writing program. Her work has been featured at the Hecksher Museum of Art on Long Island, Women's Health, SHAPE, Bustle, and elsewhere.

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Kristina Hallett, PhD, ABPP

State Certified Clinical Psychologist

Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP is a board-certified clinical psychologist with a background in neuroscience. She is also the Director of Clinical Education at Bay Path University and an Associate Professor of Graduate Psychology.

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24. September 2022

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Depression is a serious mental illness. Someone who is depressed cannot "walk away from it" or "shake it off." Seeing a loved one with this condition can be really difficult, and you may wonder if there is anything they can say to make things better for them. So we spoke to experts to find out how to offer care, concern and support to someone suffering from depression.


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Recognize depression in loved ones.

"Depression is a common mood disorder that can present in a variety of forms; however, it is generally characterized by persistent sadness, hopelessness, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt."Allison Forti, Ph. D., LCMHC, NCC, Associate Professor of Teaching and Associate Director of theWake Forest University Counseling Department Online Programssays mbg. “People with depression may lose interest in hobbies or activities they used to enjoy, may want to sleep more or less than usual, lose their appetite or eat more than is normal for them, and may have trouble making decisions or concentrating. In some cases of depression, people can start thinking more about death and suicide."

Some people may be chronically depressed, others may bebriefly depressed. Depression can manifest itself in many ways, and your loved one may not have all the signs or symptoms. According to Forti, you can look for observable changes in their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical appearances.

"You may notice that your loved one who was once asocial butterfly, you are now canceling plans to meet for dinner, a book club, or other events. They may wear the same clothes for days at a time, not groom themselves as often, or stop wearing makeup," she explains. "Your loved one may be speaking more slowly and seem distracted or irritated. They may stop contacting you, calling you, or spending time together."

How to help a depressed friend.

search suggestions1Peer support can really help people with depression, and in fact, there are helpful ways to express your worry, worry, or feelings to someone with depression. However, before taking this step,Jennifer Dragonette, PhD in Psychology., a clinical psychologist and clinical services educator at Newport Healthcare in Northern California, encourages you to be mindful.

"Sometimes jumping in with a piece of advice makes people quit," says Dragonette. "Don't give unsolicited advice or help you didn't ask for. Validate it without looking directly at your own experiences."

Additionally, Forti advises avoiding suggesting your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to a depressed person.they are not validor you can easily change. “They need empathy, compassion and support. Validating your experience by not overlooking your pain and realizing what is happening is a good first step," Forti told mbg.

Here are some suggestions for what to say to someone with depression:


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12 things to say to someone who is depressed:


"I care about you and I care about you."

People with depression often experience feelings of hopelessness and pessimism, which can cause them to lose sight of how much they care about themselves, Forti explains. A reminder that you care about them can be helpful.


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"You want to talk?"

Depression can lead to a strong sense of isolation, and your loved one may begin to withdraw. According to Forti, reminding them that people care about them can help them and give them hope.


"Would you like to spend time together?"

When your loved one feels like it, Forti suggests taking a walk, having a coffee, stopping by to chat or whatever interests you. "The point is to be available to them so you can show your support," she says.


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"I want to be there for you, but I don't know how. Can you tell me what you need from me?"

According to GinaMarie Guarino, LMHC, a licensed mental health counselorpsycho point, it's good to say that to avoid assuming what the other person needs. You may feel helpless if you don't know how to support your loved one; However, you may be able to offer some guidance on small gestures that will make them feel loved.


"Do you need help with shopping?"

While questions can be a good option, sometimes people with depression may not be able to articulate their needs or how you can specifically help them. “In the face of depression, everyday tasks can seem more difficult. Offering to help with a specific task can be helpful and alleviate some of the psychological distress,” Forti told mbg.


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"I've noticed you don't look like yourself. Do you want to talk about it?"

Let your loved one know that you're seeing behavior changes and that you care enough to talk about them, Forti suggests. While they may not want to talk about it, at least they will know that they have a witness to your fight and that you are taking the first step in reaching out to them.


"We don't have to talk, but can I sit with you?"

Saying that is a good way to go if your loved one is not willing to talk right now. Guarino suggests making the gracious offer to come in and sit quietly. Small gestures like this can make a world of difference to someone consumed by darkness.


"I think you need professional help."

When this happens, let your loved one know that you see them struggling and concerned about their well-being. "Suggesting professional help can feel like permission to seek help, or it can open the door to a discussion about seeking professional help," says Forti. "In either case, it opens the door to opportunities to get professional help."


"I love you."

Dragonette suggests Just to is a very simple but powerful optionRemind someone who is depressed that you love them. Feeling loved in everyday life isscientifically related to the improvement of well-being.


"I've seen you go through hard stuff before, and I know you can do it again."

According to Dragonette, she may feel uplifted when you tell your loved one who is struggling with depression that you have noted their strength in past difficulties. This is another way to let them know that they are not alone in their journey.


"It's okay to be human."

Remind your loved ones that everyone is susceptible to depression, even the strongest people. "Depression is not something to be ashamed of," says Forti. “Our culture helps promote depression. In our society, people regularly receive messages that they are inadequate, that they are struggling to find social connections and purpose, that they are concerned about financial stability and personal security, and that they are working longer and longer hours.cultural factors2Put everyone at risk for depression, even the people you least expect to develop it.


"I will continue to control you."

People with depression may not feel like socializing or talking, both of which may require too much energy at this time. “Avoid pressuring your loved one to do something that is difficult for them because of depression,” says Forti. “However, let her know that you will not abandon her.

Keep your efforts simple and non-invasive. Sending "Thinking of you" text messages can do wonders when someone is feeling lonely and sad. Keep letting them know that you care about them.

When to look for a professional

According to Forti, professional help is beneficial for all levels of depression: mild, moderate, or severe. "Some people with high-functioning depression, which makes them feel drained, sad, and irritable but is still able to maintain relationships and responsibilities at work and in life, may go unnoticed by close family members who are preoccupied with their personal lives... The fights may not be conscious," explains Forti. "However,moderate to severe depressionit can become more noticeable." This occurs when people struggle more at work or in relationships, or their daily lives become too stressful.

Someone with moderate to severe depression may also have suicidal thoughts. Professional help is especially helpful when someone is showing signs of suicidal tendencies. "[Risk factors] include a decrease in your loved one's hygiene and personal care, seeing your loved one sleeping more than usual or having difficulty being present with others, and expressing disturbing thoughts such as 'Which Is that the point?' 'People would be better off without me,' or 'I don't want to do this anymore,'" Guarino told mbg. "If you're concerned about your loved one's immediate safety, it's okay to seek professional help. Your loved one may be resistant to getting help at first, but it's important to take the warning signs of depression seriously."

A trained psychotherapist can listen, offer a supportive relationship to address concerns, and help you achieve goals to feel better.

take that away

When you're depressed, you feel like you're the only person in the world who's going through it. “The condition pretends that we are alone and that no one understands what we are going through,” says Dragonette. "The best thing anyone with depression can do is to do the opposite of what their instincts and body are telling them right now. Depression tells us that we will be a burden. In these times, we don't want to listen to that feeling and ask for help ".

When someone you love is struggling with depression, remember that you can't be responsible for their well-being, but the supportive things you say to them can be beneficial. There are also resources to share with your loved one.

People struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts can do it now.call 988get free support. "This number gives people access to professional crisis workers who can listen and offer help," says Forti. "This hotline is open 24/7, so people who are struggling have access to a trained and compassionate first responder when they need help."

For information on how to contact Lifeline and resources to find help, visit:https://988lifeline.org/. You can also find resources on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) website:https://www.samhsa.gov/.


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