Help with Depression and Anxiety
When Your Friend Suffers From Mental Health Problems
Mental health problems are no joke. Illnesses like depression and anxiety are being diagnosed more and more these days. You never know what’s going on inside someone else’s head so it’s important that you treat everyone you meet with kindness and understanding – but what happens when one of your close friends is suffering from mental health problems like depression? Here are some tips to help get them through it…
# Accept Their Illness
First and foremost, remember that if someone could snap out of having depression, they would do. It’s important that you accept their condition. Remember that mental health can vary from day to day – someone’s depression doesn’t get any less real because you’ve seen pictures of them on a night out with another friend or smiling on Instagram. You never know what’s going on inside someone’s head, and everyone has good days and bad days.
# Encourage Them To Go Out
If you have depression or other mental health problems it can be difficult to leave the house. Putting on clothes and shoes and taking a shower can be insurmountable obstacles. It probably isn’t a good idea for you to suggest a weekend away or a day trip to the zoo because that might seem exhausting, but you could suggest walking around the corner to treat your friend to a coffee. The fresh air will help, particularly if it’s a sunny day, and they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that they’ve left the house and spent some time relaxing with you.
# Don’t Suggest Cures
Even if you’re a doctor, chances are, your friend won’t appreciate any ‘cures’ that you suggest. You might have read about the properties of healing herbs and vitamins on the internet but quite frankly that probably won’t help. Feel free to buy your friend a bottle of Vitamin C tablets but remember that they won’t appreciate you hanging healing crystals around their living room. Even if you’ve read about scientific methods like different medications, it really isn’t your place to suggest them. Stay informed about things like bipolar symptoms and how to stay mentally healthy, but don’t overstep the boundaries and make your friend feel as though you’re trying to overwhelm them with medical knowledge or things that they should do.
# Encourage Them To Seek Medical Help
Remember that depression is an illness and as such needs to be treated by doctors. Therapists can help, as can medication. Getting help for mental health problems doesn’t mean that you’re weak or that you’re giving in. If you have to take them to their doctor or therapist appointments, do it. It’s a concrete way that you can help and they’ll appreciate it.
# Keep Checking In On Them
It’s important that your friend knows that you’re always there for them. Make sure that they don’t think you’ve forgotten about them. A lot of people with common mental health problems feel bad about themselves – they might be worried that you don’t like them anymore or that they aren’t fun since they developed their mental health problems. Make sure that you keep sending them messages to remind them that you’re thinking about them – whether that’s simply funny animated gifs from your favourite TV shows or messages reminding them that you love them, keep letting them know that you care, even if you don’t get responses.
# Offer Practical Help
It’s great to keep making sure that your friend is okay and telling them that if there’s anything you can do to help you will, but at the same time, it’s a much better idea to offer some practical help. If your friend is suffering from depression they may find it difficult to actually ask for what they need because they might be afraid of being a burden to you. Offer to drive them to appointments, to make them dinner, and to do their laundry or some of their cleaning.
# Don’t Cut Them Too Much Slack
If your friend is treating you badly then you need to remember that even though they aren’t well, it isn’t acceptable behaviour. It’s incredibly difficult for people with mental health conditions to moderate their behaviour some of the time and if you’re particularly close to them then you might end up being someone that they take out some of their negative feelings on. You need to remember that even though they’re ill, that isn’t okay. It’s important that you stay healthy – set some boundaries and if you feel that you’re exhausted by your friend’s mental illness, consider going to a therapist yourself. You also need to make sure that you don’t prioritise them over your own health and happiness – you should be your own priority.
Take good care of your friends,