How to Talk to a Friend About Their Depression

How to Talk to a Friend About Their Depression

If your friend is depressed, then you can talk about the condition if you know the symptoms

If your friend is acting oddly, then it is normal for you to feel concerned. For instance, if your friend interacts with you less than she normally did, then you may wonder when you should communicate your concerns, because it might seem as if your friend is being distant or something is just a little off kilter. While friendships do change over time, if you see a shift in behavior, then it is important to know some of the symptoms of depression so you can take action as soon as this problem shows itself.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms of depression include the following issues:

  • Sadness
  • Emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Sleep disturbances (sleeping too little or too much)
  • High levels of anxiety
  • Feelings of worthlessness

Another symptom is unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches, but there are other symptoms of depression to consider as well[1]. In short, do your homework and prepare yourself so you know what to look for as you confront your friend. Some symptoms are more noticeable than others, but whether or not you can spot them will depend upon your friendship. Focus on the symptoms that are easiest to spot such, as attitudes and interests. Afterwards, you can ask if your friend uses drugs or alcohol and what his diet is like. Keep these qualities in mind as you prepare to talk with him. However, when you do have this conversation, then be sure to keep the following concepts to keep in mind.

Be Honest with Your Friend

While talking with a depressed friend, one of the best moves you can make is to express your concerns in a positive way. Tell your loved one how much you care about her, and point out any specific changes in her behavior. If you feel distant in the relationship, as if she is pushing you away, then say so. If you have noticed that your friend is drinking more or if you think she is abusing drugs, then express these concerns clearly. Be careful not to make accusations, just ask if she is behaving in those ways. Furthermore, if you have had struggles with depression, then now would be a good time to tell your own story. Do not force the conversation with your friend—if she does not want to talk about depression, then you need to respect her decision. Just spend time together and let your friend know that you are there whenever she wants to talk.

Encourage Your Friend

By having a positive attitude, you can encourage your friend to overcome depression. Say positive, uplifting things to your friend; compliment him and praise areas that are likely overlooked. Find an area of need and offer to help with it. If your friend is in fact depressed, then offer to go for a walk with him, as exercise is a proven way to address depression. Going outside to take pictures would be another practical way to enjoy the great outdoors. You can set up a time to get together with other friends for fun: you could play a board game or even go out together for dessert. When someone is depressed, he is probably also lonely, so community and group interaction is one of the best ways to handle this issue. Even if the individual does not want to participate in an activity or outing, then make it easy for him to do so by breaking the task into small steps. Instead of making an activity overwhelming, frame it as a small cup of coffee or a piece of pie: this shift in approach can help someone focus on a manageable task.

Get Professional Help

One of the best ways to treat depression is to talk with a professional counselor or therapist, as this method has proven itself over the years as one of the best ways to treat mental health issues. However, if your friend dislikes to this idea, then do not worry, because you can seek help so you can be the best friend possible to your struggling loved one. By talking about your problems with an experienced professional, you can learn practical ways to improve your situation and to help someone else.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. In 2014, an estimated 15.7 million Americans aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7% of all US adults, so, if you or your friend is depressed, then please know that you can get the help you need[2].

Keep in mind that, if you or your friend struggles with depression, then you can get help. Various medical approaches can treat depression, such as medication, art therapy, talk therapy and more. So, if you would like someone to talk with about depression or any other health condition, then please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now for instant help. Our admissions coordinators will listen to all of your needs and offer practical advice so you can move forward.


[1] Depression (major depressive disorder)

[2] Major Depression Among Adults

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