Depression is very quickly becoming one of the UK’s biggest health concerns with one in four of us thought to be affected at some point during our lives. Although perceptions about depression are certainly improving, unfortunately, many of us are still unaware how to help those who are suffering. Below we have listed three simple ways you can help a friend with depression. If you know of any others please feel free to share your ideas with us on our Facebook page.
1) Understand that depression isn’t a choice. Depression is a serious mental disorder that cannot be conquered with willpower or simply changing your outlook. If you’re helping a friend, don’t tell them to snap out of it or cheer up. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not weak or lacking willpower, they have an obstacle preventing them from normal function. In order to be the biggest possible help, familiarise yourself with depression and what’s it’s like to suffer from it because this will help you to become more understanding.
2) Encourage them to speak to someone. One of the best things you can do for your friend is encourage them to get help and speak to a professional. Your support is vital but you cannot fix them on your own and counselling can be an integral part of managing depression.
3) Encourage exercise. The benefits of exercise for those who are suffering with mental health problems are well documented but it can be difficult to get this message across to someone who doesn’t seem interested. Try to subtly encourage your friend to engage in psychical activity by asking if they fancy going for a walk on a nice day, joining you at an exercise class or even suggest signing up for a race together so you have someone to train with.
If you would like more information about depression, please feel free to visit our Anxiety and Depression knowledge centre. If you or someone you know is suffering from depression please visit our depression treatment page for more details about the signs, symptoms and treatments available. You can also call us to learn more about Life Works and our treatments.