How to Help a Friend with Depression
1. DO become concerned when your typically outgoing friend doesn’t text or call and you realize you haven’t heard from him/her in an unusually long period of time.
2. DON’T take it personally that you have not heard from him/her as it has nothing to do with you or anything youmay have said or did.
3. DO connect with them and ask directly if indeed you have not heard from them because they are feeling down, expressing sincere concern and compassion.
4. DON’T intentionally or unintentionally impart guilt that they have been unavailable to you, this may contribute to the guilt and low self-esteem they may already be battling.
5. DO realize that if they are able to talk to you about being depressed that it likely requires much courage and effort on their part. Also, the word “depressed” you use is not the same one that they are describing; in fact, it may help to ask them to explain to you what depression feels
like to them. Validate how hard that must be.
6. DON’T make over simplified solutions for feeling better. Getting better is a recipe that requires many “ingredients” working together in harmony. Saying things like, “going to that party will cheer you up” or “if you would just exercise you would have more energy”, may actually be discouraging. Trust me, if it were that simple they wouldn’t be depressed.
7. DO simply listen when they share.
8. DON’T forget that their mind isn’t working quite like it usually does, so their perceptions may be skewed and they may be more sensitive than usual. Try to exercise patience.
9. DO continue to reach out to them and let them know that they are important to you even if they are giving you indications that they want to be left alone. Their isolating behavior is the depression talking.
10. DON’T forget that even if they look like they are doing fine they may be feeling pretty bad. They become good at making us think that they are fine because that’s how they want to feel.
11. DO know that all of the efforts you make to support your loved ones when they are suffering are extremely meaningful to them and don’t go unrecognized.
This list of do’s and don’ts was written by Sally McQuillen – mother, social worker and Erika’s Lighthouse Executive Council Member
For more information about teenage depression, visit Erika’s Lighthouse.