Reach out to those suffering from depression: 10 ways you can really help

If you have ever suffered from depression, then you know that all you need at such difficult times is someone to be there for you and help you to get through the storm.

When your mental health is unsteady, and you’re on the verge of completely falling apart, a friendly face and a warm shoulder to cry on can help you get back on your feet and move on.

Battling depression is never easy. It requires a lot of hard work and strong will, especially if you need to do it on your own. In case you know someone who might be dealing with similar mental health issues, here are 10 ways you can help them.

1. Check in on them.

Oftentimes, people struggling with depression refuse to reach out to their friends and family. That’s because the last thing they want is to burden someone with their own problems. They won’t call you or text you even if you’re their BFF, not because they don’t want to hear from you, but because they don’t want to annoy you or weigh you down with their issues. So if you’re worried about them, don’t wait for them to reach out. Be the one that checks in on them and actually cares about them.

2. Just listen.

When someone who battles depression has gathered the courage to share their thoughts and feelings with you, just listen. Don’t judge them, don’t criticize them, don’t try to fix them, just listen. Sometimes, giving someone advice, or pointing their mistakes while they are trying to explain to you what’s going on in their minds, is not what they need. Being there for them and listening to them while holding their hand is all they might need at such a suffocating time.

3. Be empathetic.

Understanding someone’s feelings while they’re suffering from mental health issues will show you the right way to their recovery. Only when you put effort into acknowledging their emotional states, you will actually be able to help them heal. Besides, showing empathy to someone who deals with depression will make them feel heard and understood, and sometimes, that’s all they need.

4. Hug them.

There are times when telling a loved one who battles depression that ‘everything is going to be okay’ is not what they need to hear. In fact, sometimes no words can make them feel better. Maybe all they crave is a big, warm, comforting hug. Being wrapped around the arms of someone who loves you and cares about you can be the best cure for your broken heart. Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, a loving hug at the right moment has the same power.

5. Know what you’re dealing with.

Depression is not just a state you’re going through for a few days and then all goes back to normal. It’s a serious medical illness that affects the way you feel, the way you think about yourself, and the way you act around others. You lose interest in things you once enjoyed, your sadness deepens, and you feel as if your existence doesn’t really matter. That’s why, if you have doubts someone around you might be struggling with a similar mental health issue, you need to gain knowledge about this condition. Knowing what they’re going through will surely help you better understand their feelings and actions.

6. Don’t ask them if they’re okay.

Asking someone who is clearly not handling life well at the moment if they’re okay is just pointless. No, they’re not okay, and maybe they won’t be anytime soon. Instead, ask them a couple more questions. Encourage them to open up by showing them you truly care. When they assure you they’re ‘fine’, ask them if they really are fine. Make sure they feel safe to lean on you and share their thoughts with you. This means much more than a simple ‘Are you okay?’.

7. Remind them who they really are.

Unfortunately, oftentimes depression makes you feel worthless and insignificant. You feel as if no one could ever love you, and you’re never good enough. So if someone you care about is showing signs of a similar condition, don’t forget to remind them how much they mean to you. Tell them how amazing they are, and how this storm will pass and they will get out of it stronger than ever. Remind them they are loved and appreciated, and they don’t have to deal with this on their own. This will mean the world to them.

8. Encourage them to practice self-care.

When you’re constantly feeling down, taking care of yourself can be quite difficult. You just don’t have the energy and the will to look after yourself. That’s why, when someone close to you is currently coping with depression, you need to encourage them to get out of bed and practice self-care. Not only they will look fresh, but they will also feel a little better. Eating healthy, reconnecting with yourself, and taking care of your mind and body can do wonders for your mental health.

9. Distract them.

While you’re struggling with depression, your mind is constantly filled with gloomy, chaotic thoughts. What you need at such a moment is a healthy distraction. You need someone to help you break from all the dark thoughts and remind you there are other feelings in this world than loneliness and anxiety. Be the friend or the loved one who shows someone battling depression that things can be better. Watch a movie together, listen to your favorite tunes, play some board games, or just spend some quality time together talking about the universe while doing nothing. Do anything that will take their mind off their condition for a while.

10. Never give up on them.

Let them know they are loved. Hold their hand while they’re going through such a challenging time of their lives. Hug them tight and show them you care. They need someone to show them the world doesn’t end with their sadness, and better things are coming their way. Be that someone who would be there for them and will help them heal.

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