What to do when your friend is depressed?

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According to statistic approximately 6.5 % of Americans will experience the grayness of a major depressive episode in a given year. Therefore I believe that among the people you know at school, work, church, gym, you may have a friend or two who are currently experiencing depression.If you care for them you may want to know how to help them.

What is depression?

According to DSM V Depressive Disorders are compose by the presence of sad, empty or irritable mood, accompanied by somatic and cognitive changes that significantly affect the individual’s capacity to function. Some of the symptoms can be;

• Feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness almost every day
• Finds no pleasure in most of all activities
• Significant weight loss
• Overeating
• Insomnia or feeling sleepy most of the time
• Fatigue or loss of energy
• Feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate feelings of guilt
• Diminish ability to think or concentrate
• Recurrent thoughts of death
• Anger outbursts

Now that you know some of the symptoms may be you can identify a spouse, or a friend who may be experiencing depression, or may be they are going through a rough time and although they may not be diagnosed as depressed they are experiencing a great deal of emotional pain.

What then? Can you help them out?

Yes, you can! The following are simple suggestions to do just that.

Give them space– Not long ago, one of my dearest friends had a miscarriage. I wanted to go striaght to her house and see her. Nevertheless she did not wanted to see or talk to anybody, she would not answer txt messages. She needed some time alone. In the other hand I just wanted to hug her and visit her, and offer her my unconditional love. But I also understood her need of space, because I had experienced the same kind of emotion when my children were born, and send to NICU, for some time I would not take phone calls. Couple weeks passed before I was able to visit her and offer her my love. I just wanted to say “I love you no matter what!”.

Send words of encouragement – if they are not able to talk to you or say much about their current experience, send them a card with words of encouragement, with simple phrases that say you love them, don’t diminish their situation, or tell them they will be better soon, just affirm them, love them and perhaps copy a text from the Bible that has given you some encouragement in the past.

Be there – some times they only need a listening ear, someone to be there and may be not say much, but to listen. Last year while visiting some friend in San Antonio I experience one of this moments with one of my dearest friends. She just sat and listened to me, I cried, she gave tissues and she even made me laugh and bought me ice cream. It was a refreshing “listen to me”, experience.

Music – may be share a beautiful song with them that has inspire you to hope for better days, or buy them an inspirational music, or if you are a musician at heart compose them a song to lift up their spirits.

Feed their body– take to them some warm food, sometimes when people are experiencing a loss, they don’t have the time or the desire to take care of their bodies, and may be you could help them do that, preparing for them a delicious soup, or entrée.Or invite them for a walk, so they can get a nice dose of oxygen and fresh air.

Take them to see a doctor – may be your dear friend, mate or your spouse are not in the mental condition to ask for help, but if they feel comfortable with you, make some phone calls and arrange an appointment for them to see a doctor. May be if they are willing, you could even drive them there. Buy them medication if necessary and make sure they are consistently taking them.Depressed people many times are not motivated enough to ask for help and be consistant on their treatment.

Be supportive – Sometimes when a spouse is experiencing depression, you may have to pick up where they left. You might have to cook for them, pay the bills, keep up with the laundry or the yard, take care of the children or find someone responsible to do it for you etc. You also need to smile, although they don’t. Sometimes laughter is contagious and could lift their spirits for a little while. Life may also seem a little bit more chaotic for a while, but in a way you are loving them as Christ loved us, who gave all the comfort of heaven to serve and save this broken world.

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Lift them up in prayer- As a Christian counselor I have no doubt that God answers intercessory prayers, I have experience them in my own life and I assure you the Holy Spirit is our greatest counselor and comforting friend in times of pain. Ask God for wisdom and patient to help your friend or spouse and pray for them, with them and in your “alone” time with God.

There is so much truth when David’s son Solomon said:

“A friend loves at all time, and a brother is born for adversity” Proverbs 17:17

May be you were born for such times like this, may God give you wisdom and courage to help your friend.

Coming soon! A book that helps you improve your relationships and after you read it I hope you would like to share it with your friends! Stay posted!.

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