According to the World Health Organization, 300 million people around the world are struggling with depression. In the US, 16.2 million adults – around 6.7% of the population – have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. It is estimated that 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their lifetime. There is a high chance that someone you know is struggling with depression. Whether it is season depression, postpartum depression, situation depression, or major depressive disorder, here are 7 ways you can help them out.
1) Help them tidy up
It can be hard to stay motivated when struggling with depression and daily activities like cleaning can be challenging. The pile up of dishes or laundry can be overwhelming, especially someone who might already feel like they are drowning. By helping them tidy up, you can reduce the number of overwhelming things that they are facing. Doing their dishes, laundry, or even vacuuming super quick can remind them that you care about them and help them be less stressed.
2) Make them a healthy meal
It is easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits when struggling with depression. Low motivation and that general Blah feeling can make it hard to get excited about good food. Some people may stop eating enough, others may overeat junk food when depressed. By making them a well-balanced, healthy meal, you can help them get the nutrition and fuel that they need. You could also encourage them to drink some water to stay hydrated. Making them tea is a great way to keep them hydrated while also providing a soothing experience.
3) Listen to them
One of the best ways to support someone experiencing depression is to show that you care about them and are there for them. You can do this by listening to them without judgement or negativity. You can use phrases like “you are not alone in this” and “you are important to me.” Focus on validating their feelings while demonstrating that you care for them. Sometimes they may not be in the mood to talk – and that’s okay – but you can still check in with them by asking how they are feeling.
4) Give them a hug
A hug is a physical way of saying “I care about you and am here for you.” Now only does a hug feel nice, it triggers the release of oxytocin in the brain, which is associated with lower blood pressure. A study at that University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine found that hugs lower stress by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the brain. Make sure to ask permission before you hug someone, but as long as they are okay with it, there is no downside to hugging others.
5) Remind them why you love them
When struggling with depression, there can be a little voice in the back of their head telling them that they are worthless and unloved. You need to let them know that this little voice is wrong. Tell them that you love them, remind them that they have value, and let them know how important that they are. Even sending them a short text can be beneficial in boosting their self esteem. Even if your text doesn’t get a response – it can be hard to reply to texts on time when struggling with depression – the sentiment is what matters.
6) Go for a walk with them
If you offer to go on a walk with them, you might get 10 “no’s” before you get a “yes.” Please, keep offering. Going for a walk with them is a great opportunity to talk and to listen. It can also be beneficial for them to get a little exercise and be outside for a little bit. You can provide them with an “escape hatch” to help them, even temporarily, break out of that Blah feeling that depression causes.
7) Assist them in seeking help
If they are seeking treatment, you can help them by doing research on local therapists. It can be frightening and overwhelming to navigate insurance policies and paperwork; by doing some of the research for them, you can make seeking help less frightening. Others ways to assist them include driving them to therapy appointments, accompanying them, or making calls to set up appointments.
Please remember that these are suggestions for how to support someone with depression. These are not treatments for depression. For more information and resources, see the Guided Resources Tool and this list of other mental health resources.