What to Say to a Friend Who Is Depressed - 11 Things to Talk About With a Depressed Friend
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More and more people are finding themselves in situations where they have to find out what to say to a friend who is depressed because the number of depressed people has been on the rise in recent years. This is according to research by the U.S. Census Bureau as shown by this graph from Public Health Nigeria.
Talking to your depressed friend does not have to be difficult because the best way you can help them is by speaking with compassion from the heart. Remind them that they are your friend and that you care for them. And even if you don’t have anything to say, the mere fact that you are supporting them by being around them is still great because a depressed person should not be lonely.
Perhaps worthy of note is that depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain and not because your friend is ‘weak’ or ‘incapable of coping with a situation.’ In other words, it is not their fault that they are depressed so you should try to be very understanding about the situation.
Remember, to support a depressed friend requires patience because they might not even feel like talking. The onus is on you as a friend, to try to support them regardless and get them to talk as this would help them cope better.
To help you out with what to say to a depressed friend, we have compiled the following conversational topics that you can use to help your depressed friend.
1. Tell them that you are there for them
At the top of the list of supportive things to say to a friend going through depression is you telling them that you are there for them and that you support them. These encouraging words for a friend feeling down are very important because depression can make a person feel as though nobody is in their corner and that they are going through things alone. You need to remind them that this is not the case by presenting yourself as one of those who are just that – in their corner.
2. Tell them that you care about them
Comfort a depressed friend by telling them how much you care about them and love them. Over and beyond being there for them, encouragement for a depressed friend needs to include that people have positive feelings of love, care, warmth, and empathy for them.
Knowing that someone cares for them is such a simple yet effective gesture that can act as a comfort message to a sad and depressed friend because they would know that there are people out there who are interested in them surviving their current stage and helping them do so.
3. Continue to remind them that they are important and matter
Help a friend through depression by telling them just how important they are to people and how much they matter. These are words of encouragement for a friend who is depressed because depression has a way of making a person feel worthless.
You can combat this by telling them all the ways they are important to you. Remind them of the things they have done for you and those times when their being in your life made it easier to live because they helped you out in certain situations. You can also include the various ways they help other people out as well. Being specific is very helpful in this instance and will serve as encouraging words for a depressed friend.
4. Offer your help to them
You can offer to help a depressed friend by asking if there is anything that they would need assistance with. Be sure to include that it would not be a burden to you because they might feel like they are bothering you with their condition if you don’t say so.
When offering this help, try to be as direct and specific as possible instead of being vague and general as they may not take you up on your offer. Ask them for instance if they need help with certain types of chores around the house or if they need someone to drive them around to appointments and the like. When it comes to what to say to a friend who is depressed, this ranks very high because you would physically be helping a friend through depression.
5. Find out if they want to talk
Sometimes you don’t need to find out how to talk to a depressed friend but rather how to get them to talk to you. Your friend might have some things to say that might make them feel better and you have to encourage them to say it by asking them if they want to talk.
Most likely than not, and depending on how close you are to them, they will open up and tell you the things they want to get off their chest. It is important that when that happens, you listen to them to understand. You don’t have to come up with solutions as they might just need a listening ear to hear them. To let them know that their concerns are known.
And if you find that, “my depressed friend won’t talk to me,” that is still fine. Just continue to offer them all the support that you can and keep trying to talk to them.
6. Find out how they are doing
Going through depression is a journey through highs and lows and your friend might want to talk about these. Constantly reaching out to see how they are doing and what they are up to is how you can help a friend with depression.
You can ask them how they are coping as well as what new thing they are involved in. Ask for updates on their life and show genuine interest when you do so. This is what to say to a friend who is sad and depressed because having an outlet to talk about their daily activities and knowing that someone is so interested can cheer up a depressed friend.
Convince your friend to engage in activities with How to get motivated to exercise when depressed.
7. Find out if they want company or space
When it comes to how to respond to a friend who is sad and depressed, providing them with company is recommended by experts. This is however more effective if the person admits that they want the company.
In regards to what to tell a friend who is sad and depressed, therefore, ask them whether they would prefer to have space or your company. If they do, make an allowance in your schedule to be with them and keep to it. If they don’t, you can still help a depressed friend who doesn’t want help in terms of company by calling them up and keeping in touch because it is important that they do not feel lonely.
8. Remind them that they are allowed to feel the way they do
Let’s say your best friend is depressed and you need things to tell your best friend when they are sad and depressed; an awesome thing to say would be that they are allowed to feel the way they do.
Humans by their very nature are emotional beings and so will feel emotions and should not be vilified for that. Tell your friend that they can feel depressed and that if it wasn’t such a human thing to feel, hundreds of millions of others wouldn’t be in the same condition. This is a nice thing to say to your friend because they mustn’t feel any less of themselves because they got depressed.
9. Remind them that feeling depressed is perfectly human
Here is some great advice for depressed friends – depression isn’t your fault. It has been proven that a person only gets depressed as a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain which is what makes it so hard to get out of.
When you talk to a friend about depression therefore, try to get this point across to them. There are many sad things to say to your friend when they are depressed but this is not one of them because it proves to them that they are not some weak and defective person who cannot seem to rise above depression. With this, you can make your friend happy when they are sad and depressed because they would then know that their condition is medical and not personal.
10. Persuade them to see a doctor/ therapist
You might not know how to talk to a friend about depression but there are trained personnel who can. These include psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, physician assistants, and several others. If you need to know what to tell your friend who is depressed, here is one – convince them to go to one of those professionals.
A lot of people who are depressed generally avoid getting help out of shame but this shouldn’t be the case because depression is a condition and conditions can be treated. You can even offer to tag along with them if it will give them the courage to go to one. Point is, going to see a professional can be very helpful and you should try to encourage them to do so however you can.
11. Remind them that depression can be treated
An inspiring thing to say to a friend to calm a friend down during depression is that depression is treatable. It is not a terminal illness with a death sentence but rather one that can be cured through various means as well as one that is taken quite seriously by the medical profession in this day and age.
This is very important when it comes to what to say to a friend who is depressed because it gives them hope that they will eventually be fine and able to rejoin society at some point.
Related article: What not to say and say to someone with anxiety.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What to tell a friend when they are sad?
- Tell them that is okay to feel sad
- Try to find out from them what happened
- Ask them if they would have a hug or some other type of physical affection that you are capable of giving
- Tell them that you are there for them
- Tell them that eventually, they will feel better
2. What to say to a sad friend?
- Ask them how you can help be it in terms of offering company or with some chores and activities
- Agree with them that the situation they are sad about is horrible
- Tell them that you are sorry they are going through such a situation
- Remind them of the various ways they are important to both you and others as a way to boost their self-worth.
- Offer to take them out or to get them food
- Remind them that they will eventually feel better
3. What to say to a depressed friend?
- Tell them that you care for them and will be there for them if they need you
- Remind them that depression doesn’t mean that they are weak because it is a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain
- Remind them that they matter to you and others
- Tell them you are there if they want to talk
- Try to get them to see a doctor
- Tell them that depression is curable which means that they will eventually be fine
Depression is a very serious condition that can mess with your friend’s emotions such that they might not be able to tell the difference between those who want to help them and those who don’t. This means that they might come against you regardless of how well you try to help and should this happen, remind yourself that it isn’t their fault – they are not in complete control of their emotions at that point. As much as you can, try to continue offering them support because they need it.
Also important is that you watch out for signs of suicide because depression significantly increases the chances that a person would try to commit suicide. Should you suspect the worst, reach out to suicide prevention organizations where you are to get help from a professional.
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