Offering Support to Depressed People


It is estimated that 20% of adults at some time are suffering from depression. It is a difficult experience to go through, but, it is also difficult for the friends and families who live with those suffering from depression. The extent of depression varies, but, everyone will at some time encounter friends who are feeling unhappy and miserable. On these occasions what is the best approach to take?

Some ideas on How to Deal With depressed People:

Be Happy Don’t be Depressed

This is really important. The best antidote to depression is the opposite – happiness. If you can remain cheerful and positive, this will imperceptibly rub off on the other person. This does not mean we have to maintain an over the top, happy persona, – this will just be irritating. However, it is a mistake to feel that we need to empathise with their depression so much that we become depressed ourselves.

Be Patient

If people experience a lasting period of depression, the last thing they need to hear is the retort – “O why don’t you just snap out of it.” Maybe this is appropriate for temporary bad moods, but, in the case of depression we can not expect an immediate fix. It is important to remain patient and understanding. We should not impose a time limit when we expect the depression to end. Patience is important and we should not become frustrated when our friends fail to resolve their difficulties

Don’t Be Judgemental

It is important to offer support to people without offering constant judgement about what is right and wrong. It is very helpful to listen to the problems of other people. This is not so we can tell them what to do; often just listening to others, gives them the opportunity to work out their own problems.

Don’t encourage Self pity

Self pity does not help solve depression. It can actually exacerbates a downward spiral. Steer people away from feeling sorry for themselves. Try to boost their self esteem instead. Look for some positive qualities to highlight, this will prevent self pity, and also help to bring out their best qualities.

Encourage Them To do Something Positive.

Often the best cure for depression is to try and do something positive and keep active. For example, physical exercise can help alleviate symptoms of moderate depression. Being active helps to keep the mind clear; doing nothing, gives us chance to ruminate on our problems and depression – this doesn’t help.

Don’t Feel Responsible / Guilty

We want to offer our support and friendship to depressed people, but, at the same time we need to maintain a certain detachment. We should not feel responsible ourself. Harbouring feelings of guilt will just make the situation worse.


Photo by Abhijatri, Sri Chinmoy Centre galleries (South Africa)