How to Support a Friend Through Depression

How to Support a Friend Through Depression

If you are looking for ways to support a friend or family member as they struggle with depression or suicidal thoughts, you should know that your support can go a long way toward helping your loved one reclaim their emotional balance. There are many ways you can help, and it starts by reaching out. Here are a few tips that may help you approach the situation.

Let them know they have your support.

People who are depressed or suicidal often feel like they are alone. They might mistakenly believe they are not worthy of asking for help. Dr. Jean Kim explains to Psychology Today that simply being there with them may be enough to help them realize that they have the support network they need. Let them know you’re available.

Help them focus on self-care.

Depressed people often torment themselves through self-neglect. It can be beneficial to provide them with opportunities to care for themselves. Something as simple as taking them for a massage may be just the stress buster they need to regain the strength to cross their personal hurdles. You might also consider providing them with a few natural supplements that can ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression

Pay attention to diet and gut health.

It’s amazing how the food we eat can affect your overall well-being. In fact, when your gut health is completely out of balance, you may end up feeling moodier and more depressed than usual. Ninety percent of the body’s serotonin, which helps naturally boost your mood, originates in your gut. As such, when this microbiome becomes unhealthy, your emotions tend to darken as a result. This is why it’s important to eat foods that boost your gut health, which “live culture” foods such as kefir and yogurt. Additionally, following a well-balanced diet is good for your body overall. Now’s the perfect time to make those important changes. 

Remind them that bad situations always pass.

It is easy for someone who is not depressed to look at tomorrow as a new opportunity. Someone who is depressed, however, especially when they are suicidal, often has trouble seeing past the darkness they feel. It may be helpful to remind them that the future is a blank slate, but it’s one that will never be colored without them. Talk to them about negative situations that happened in the past and the positive outcomes of getting through them. Shedding light on these instances may reignite a spark in your loved one.

Exercise together.

Exercise produces endorphins in the brain that can have a beneficial and long-lasting effect. Invite your loved one to do a workout together. If they are not interested in getting hot and sweaty, they may be more open to less strenuous activities, such as yoga. Harvard Medical School has long asserted that yoga is an effective way to relieve stress. In addition to the physical benefits, yoga practitioners often have time to meditate, which can help them reconnect with both their mind and body. This can help them learn to accept their circumstances and overcome feelings of hopelessness and fear.

Offer to go to therapy with them.

If your loved one does not recover on their own, therapy can help. The American Psychological Association explains that the two most common types of treatment for therapy or interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Your loved one may be intimidated by the thoughts of seeing a counselor and may be more willing to go if they know they have your support.

Recognize an emergency.

There are many warning signs that depression has led your loved one into a deep hole, a place where they believe suicide is the only way out. A few common signs that your loved one needs emergency care include making statements that they wish they were dead, giving away personal belongings, and acquiring weapons or medications that could potentially end their life. If you believe your friend or family member is in immediate danger of suicide, call 911 and do not leave them alone unless they become violent. You may also contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Your friendship is a gift that may save a life. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone in need and help them seek emergency medical treatment if you are concerned that they are suicidal.

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