When someone you love appears to be “off” or “not acting like themselves”, it’s hard to know what to say and how to help.
Here are four quick and solid tips.
What do I say? I don’t think they want to talk about it. What if I make them “more depressed”? Even though my loved one seems out of balance, they seem to be managing it so I’ll leave it alone. Our intentions are inherently good — we want to help.
Depression manifests in so many different ways. It visits people in a variety of forms and affects people differently — so how can I help ____loved one_____ ?
Sometimes it’s hard to know if your friend is going through a rough patch or is experiencing something like depression and/or anxiety. Your loved one may appear a mess or even irritable. The important thing to look for are changes and when you notice these changes check in with them about it.
Listen to your loved one. Simple enough, but just sitting and listening can make a incredible impact. Resist any urges to “fix it” and encourage them to continue sharing with a mental health professional.
It’s hard to start the conversation with your loved one. Even though the person may not feel like talking, you try. “I’ve noticed you look down lately. I don’t know how to, but I’m here to help.” Or “you seem sad lately. How can I help you?”. Starting the conversation is a way to bring light into a dark place. Depression thrives in darkness and subsides in the light.
Encourage your loved one to get help from a professional. The person may want to start by telling another support like a family member or community member about what’s been going on. Help them find professional help and even help them make their first appointment if necessary. These tips ebb and flow depending on unique traits and circumstances. If they don’t feel comfortable with the first health professional, then you could help them find another.
Be yourself. Be a good listener. And don’t give up on them.