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7 Key Methods to Helping a Friend with Depression
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According to the latest statistics, approximately 20.9 million American adults, or about 9.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year, have a mood disorder. So chances are pretty good that you know someone who suffers from depression. If you have a friend who suffers from this debilitating mood disorder chances are even higher that it's had a negative impact on you psychologically and physically as well.
When it comes right down to it if you have a friend with depression, you are a victim too because depression effects everyone around the people who have it. At the time I was going through the worst part of depression, my behavior was so unpredictable my friends never knew what to expect. For example, one minute I'd be fine, then the next minute I would start to cry uncontrollably. Over the years, I lost a few friends and my second marriage ended in divorce because of my unstable mood and the fact that they really did not understand what I was going through.
Are you at your wits end with a friend who has depression because you just don't know what to do or how to help? Please don't give up on him. Here's what you can do and how you can help.
The following are 7 key methods that you can use to help your friend who has depression:
1. Understand the basics of depression - The more you know about depression the better you can help your friend who has it. Depression is a complicated mood disorder, so you are going to have to do some research. There are a number of resources that you can use to acquire the information that you need including websites (just type "depression" into your favorite search engine), books, magazines, and of course doctors. Your goal should be to get a very good idea of what your friend is going through so you can "step into his shoes" as it were in order to avoid using such statements as "suck it up", "stop being such a crybaby" or "you're doing this to yourself you know." I can't tell you how many times I have heard that last one over the years. Remarks like that simply intensify depression.
2. Just listen - You would be surprised at how many people who have depression just want and need somebody to talk to. I know I did but for the longest time I was very apprehensive about talking to anyone except my doctor. After all, I had been judged by a few people who I thought would simply listen and didn't. Fortunately I did have some very close friends who took the time to learn what I was going through. They turned out to be very effective listeners and you can too. It's very easy for people with depression to become stigmatized and want to hide their problem. So don't be shocked if your friend doesn't open up to you immediately. If or when he does, just let him talk. Don't interrupt or be judgmental. It can be difficult listening to what your friend has to say, so try not to overreact to their situation. Remember that he trusts you. So make sure you let him know that you value his trust.
3. Get outside - One of the most effective ways that you can help a friend is to encourage him to get outside of the house with you and do something. Any productive or fun activity that will enable him to switch his negative thoughts to more positive cognitions is ideal. My friends and I always used to go bowling or out to a funny movie. Initially, you may get some resistance. It's fine to be persistent to a point, but don't get pushy.
4. Encourage professional help - If you friend is showing obvious signs of a mood disorder such as excessive uncontrollable crying, loss of interest in activities he used to find enjoyable or he is expressing feelings of worthlessness, and he has not been diagnosed , encourage your friend to see a doctor as soon as possible. If he resists, which will probably happen, do not push it. Let several days go by and make that suggestion again. Offer to help him find the resources he needs. Over time your friend will, in all probability change his mind because, as I had mentioned before, a depressed person will want to talk with someone. However, if your friend is talking about harming himself, then you need to find out if he has thought about how and when to do it and if he has the means to do it. If he answers all three questions with any degree of certainty encourage him to call 911 immediately. If he resists, call yourself so an emergency team can be dispatched.
5. Act naturally - This above all else, be yourself. Do not try and be any other person but a good friend. During my battle with depression, I had had a few "friends" who decided to act like my doctor. They were always attempting to analyze me by asking questions about my past. I hated that and I resented them for behaving like such phonies. What they were really trying to do was stroke their own egos at my expense. That type of nonsense just added to my depression Conversely, complete honesty and sincerity were extremely helpful to my recovery process.
6. Have patience - Since anyone who suffers from depression can be so unpredictable at times, it's easy to become angry and frustrated with them. Remember, however, that depression is a rather complex mood disorder. Just as it is possible to physically suffer from a broken bone, so too it is possible to mentally suffer from broken thoughts, emotions, and behavior. Please understand that your friend is not himself at the moment. If it seems that he does not want your immediate help, don't get angry. Just give him some space and be there for him even if he believes you don't need to be.
7. Get support for yourself - When it comes to support, please don't forget about yourself. Do not sacrifice your own mental and physical well being in order to help anyone who is depressed. There are going to be times when you just want to vent your own emotions. Its ok to be angry and upset. These are just natural responses to a stressful situation. You cant help a depressed individual all the time, nor should you try. If you overdo it, your friend is likely to feel helpless and you might feel resentful. Make sure to either join a support group or talk with a close relative or friend. Also, there is no shame in seeing a therapist yourself.
As you've probably concluded, helping someone who has depression is not always easy. However, I'll tell you right here and now that having a solid support system of friends in place to help me during the time I was going through depression helped considerably in my recovery process. Follow these 7 key methods to helping your friend with depression and over time you'll discover just how important your help has been.
Dave Kanofsky is a proud affiliate with Wealth Creations Network, your zero out of pocket way to creating wealth. Dave Kanofsky is passionate about empowering those individuals with depression and/or who are disabled to create wealth for themselves. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now and start to make money free
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