Want to Help Someone Through Depression? Here Are a Few Things to Try

“There were two classes of charitable people: one, the people who did a little and made a great deal of noise; the other, the people who did a great deal and made no noise at all.” ~Charles Dickens

“It’ll be okay, just…”

That expression would have made me feel much happier than just hearing each time it was said to me.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can end that sentence.

“Try not to think about it.”

“Cheer up.”

“Get some exercise.“

“See someone about it.”

Although well-intentioned and true, it is completely useless.

I didn’t need to hear advice, or pointers or solutions. I just needed them to be present, to remind me I wasn’t alone.

I arrived in a new city, completely broken and in despair after not getting any physical rest for several weeks. I couldn’t pray, couldn’t read (I tried), couldn’t sleep, and felt like moving forward was the most insurmountable task of my life.

You could write an entire book on my depression journey. I could also list the many unhelpful comments and actions of others, but I want to focus my efforts on those things that made a positive difference to me when I was in my worst. If someone you love is struggling with depression, here’s how you might be able to help.

Always be present

It is so difficult when we don’t know what to do or say to help. Being present can be so helpful. Be there when you can. And if you’re not able to be there in person, be present from afar.

Crystal, my best friend at that time was very far from me. She was aware of my struggles. She called me one day, when I was too exhausted to talk. Then she prayed for me over the phone. Every weekend she called, praying on the phone for thirty-to-40 minutes while I sat and listened, sometimes crying. That was for over a year. This was like someone lifting me up and taking me with them. Her kindness is amazing.

Although you might not always do the same thing, it’s important to be present. Be physically present for the people that you are trying to help. You don’t even need to say much. Call or write if it is impossible for you to respond. A quick note that will only take thirty seconds to write, a text that reads, “I love you.” Or “I’m thinking about you.” Or “I’ll see you soon.” Or “You are such a good…” (friend, mother, person, artist, whatever …

It will help them remember that they aren’t alone.

Let them have a conversation.

It is possible to listen and learn without judgement or interference. There may not be too many insights you can provide, especially if you haven’t been through the same struggle, but listening is such a priceless gift to offer.

Most of their thoughts or perspective may be flawed—depression can distort our perception—but they need the freedom and safety to express them. You can then gently, but graciously, challenge their thinking.

Let them cry too, it’s okay. It’s a release. Feelings need to be felt in a safe environment until they’re processed. It’s better than holding them inside and letting them weary and crush you.

Go for a stroll with them

You should find somewhere beautiful. If possible, add a dog to the mix.

The healing power of nature and animals is unmatched! When Winston Churchill said, “There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse,” he knew what he was talking about.

Each time I touched trees or horses or puppies, it felt as though I was rebuilding my body.

What can you help me with? They need.

Not what, but what do they really need? YouThey think it is what they require. Maybe it’s to watch their kid while they sleep, or perhaps bring them a meal they would enjoy. Perhaps you could help clean their bedroom or desk, or even a kitchen. Ask them for their suggestions.

One time, when I was struggling, an older woman who met my husband at work learned that I was in a rather tough spot in life and insisted that she and I talk because she really “wanted to help.” This lady, knowing I had just had a baby, asked if I “could get a babysitter so she could visit with me and teach me some things” about life and parenting. I felt like the conversation was about her more than it was me. Needless to say, I didn’t want anything to do with her or her “wisdom.”

Hold on tight.

A good hug fills a gap between loneliness and belonging and triggers oxytocin, along with the rest of the “happy” hormones. It’s so comforting and therapeutic.

Keep reminding them about all that they’ve accomplished.

Although they may be resistant to your efforts to demonstrate their strength, you can present the facts that show that they are determined or strong and help them get well.

Celebrate little victories.

Because they probably won’t.

A person who has little motivation to achieve anything can win. Let them know that you are there to help.Are progressing, even if it doesn’t feel like it. For us to continue moving forward we must have faith.

Then, after doing these things, you can tell them: “it will be okay.” And maybe then they’ll believe it.

All the best to you in your efforts to encourage those you love.

Nino Fincher

Nino is currently based in Abu Dhabi and assists clients with multiple problems through Rapid Transformation Therapy. This was created by Marisa Peek. The combination of NLP and traditional therapies, it focuses on the core issue and is a great way to get there. Clients who’ve struggled with anxiety, phobias for years are set free. Her website is www.ninofit.com

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