If someone you love is struggling with depression, it can be tough to know how to help. Being afraid of saying the wrong thing might cause you to hold back on offering assistance or encouragement, but it’s better to be there for support above all. While saying the right thing can vary depending on the situation, it’s a good start to look for answers on how to best respond.
Saying anything can often be better than nothing, and if you’re looking for some effective ways to help your struggling loved one, we have some suggestions. Here are five phrases to say when someone you love is struggling with depression.
“I can’t fully understand what you’re going through but I’m here for you no matter what.”
This statement is helpful because even if you can’t understand the complexity of your loved one’s depression, it shows them you are here to support them in their fight for the long haul. We often try to point out the positive aspects of someone’s life to help them deal with depression, but depression isn’t easily fixed with these kinds of reminders. These kinds of efforts, including questioning the source of sadness, often increase the shame people with depression feel for experiencing sadness and it can invalidate their feelings. The best support is accepting their truth.
“I’m always going to be here to talk, but what do you think of therapy?”
If your loved one is suffering from depression but not undergoing treatment, they could benefit from therapy. This is because friends and family cannot fulfill the responsibility of a professional. Make this suggestion gently and tentatively, but not as a demand. Since it can also be difficult to find a therapist that will take certain insurance, has an opening, and is the right fit, offering to help your friend in the search is also a helpful idea.
“I’m not sure how true this is for you, but in my experience with depression…”
In line with the idea that you may not understand another person’s experience with depression is that you may have also experienced depression, but differently. Even so, you can offer helpful tips for what worked for you, since this may help your loved one feel less alone in their struggle.
“I’m going for a walk, do you want to come?”
Establishing a healthy routine can be helpful for people with depression. This might include taking a walk together each day. If you suggest doing this together, it’s likely to return a better result than simply suggesting that they do this activity alone. If they don’t feel up to it, don’t push it any further.
“If you ever want to talk, I am always here to listen.”
Listening and providing emotional support makes a difference to people dealing with depression because it’s common for them to isolate and withdraw. As mentioned above, don’t try to fix anything when you listen to them — just listen to your loved one with empathy, warmth, and compassion.