Although many people may choose to keep their depression and anxiety to themselves, as they may be ashamed or not wanting to be judged, I really recommend sharing your worries with your friends. I have found talking about my problems so beneficial and I also could not get by without the support I receive from my friends.
Everyone one is different so adjust these things to suit how you think your friend would appreciate them. I think the most important thing to ask yourself is, “If you were dealing with their illness, what would you want from a friend?”
Ask them about it
Ask your friend if they want to talk about it because in my experience people do like to open up given the chance. They probably have a lot to get off their chest and knowing that you are willing to listen will allow them do so. Having an open conversation will give you a great idea of what they are struggling with which will make knowing what things will help them a lot easier. For example, if they have been recommended to do one pleasurable activity a day, offer to go with them to the cinema or out for dinner. If they are wanting to get over their fear of crowded spaces, then offer to do do some graded exposure therapy with them, to allow them to build up to being in a crowded space alone. In addition, this will make it easier for you to understand what they are going through.
If you haven’t experienced depression you will probably not be able to understand it very well, however, everyone is more than capable of having compassion. Not everyone has broken a bone but you can sympathise with someone when they are in pain. If someone confides in you, don’t act awkward because it will make the person feel ashamed!
Personally, I have had some Bad Reactions to Depression which you can read about if you click on the link. I think to react well to someone telling you that they are suffering is to reinforce that you are there for them, care about them and ask them if there is anything you can do for them. My favourite ever reaction was when my friend hugged me and told me she would send me whatever notes I need from the lectures I’ve missed.
Check in on them
It might have been a month since they couldn’t get out of bed but they are managing to turn up to class now, so you assume they are fine – don’t do this. Depression is not an illness that goes away overnight, it will take time to recover from it. If you don’t bother to ask your friend how they are dealing with their illness, after they have told you they are struggling, they are going to think you don’t care. Having someone seem interested in how you are doing is really reassuring!
Try to understand the way they are acting
Your friend might be cancelling plans, avoiding going out with you at all or even being mean to you. A lot of their behaviours could be as a result of their depression, therefore, they won’t mean to hurt you or act the way they are. Having depression makes me extremely argumentative and hypersensitive and I have told my friends that, so they know I’m not being difficult intentionally.
Make sure they know how much they mean to you
Depression can be such an isolating illness and along with low self esteem, people suffering can feel worthless. By highlighting the importance of your friendship to them, they will feel wanted, or at least needed. This way if they come to you for help they will feel less annoying and more comfortable since you have demonstrated that you care. I love getting bought presents and I know when my friend’s gave me gifts it meant a lot – here are some ideas that would be appreciated: Click here Click here
I understand that being friends with someone with depression may hard sometimes but everyone has their own baggage. Support your friends, ask your friends if they are okay and be there for them.