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Future Health






Are you concerned that a friend may be suffering from depression?

October 6, 2020 

 

Everyone experiences depression in different ways. Some people have many symptoms and others may only have a few. Common symptoms they may experience are:

  • care less about their usual activities and interests
  • easily get upset and are more irritable than usual
  • seem sad, anxious or easily tearful
  • have their sleeping habits change
  • have trouble making decisions or concentrating
  • talk about death or suicide
  • let their appearance go
  • talk about feeling worthless or empty
  • their appetite may change to eating less or more
  • turning to substances such as alcohol or drugs

You might hang out with your friend a lot; the reality is that you're not always physically with them. While texting, group chats, and DMs can be common forms of keeping in touch, they can cloud any evidence of concerning body language or tone you would typically see hanging out in person. So how do you know if something is off?

Keep an eye out for these signs that could indicate your friend is struggling with their mental health:

  • Posting captions, hashtags, or emojis that are overtly sad or negative- they go beyond sarcastic jokes.
  • Liking posts or following accounts that promote negative behaviors– even if they aren’t sharing it to their feeds.
  • Writing posts or comments that show impulsive behavior, irritability, hostility, or indicate insomnia.

Whether it’s on social media, in group chats, or during a hangout – if you suspect your friend is struggling, trust your gut.

People with depression may not recognize or acknowledge that they're depressed and may think their feelings are normal.

Opening the door to begin a conversation can really help. Not sure where to start? Find a moment to talk. Beginning the conversation doesn’t mean you have to dive right in. Maybe start by talking about the struggles you are going through to give your friend an avenue to open up. Whether it's over a bite to eat or taking a walk, a simple “what’s up” is a great place to begin or try one of these opening lines to help make starting the conversation easier.

You know you can tell me anything. I won’t judge.”

“Seems like something’s up. Do you want talk about what’s going on?”

“Listen, you’re my friend, and I just want to know how your feeling and that you’re ok.”

“Whenever you’re ready to talk, I’m ready to listen.”

“I know life can be overwhelming sometimes. So, if you need to talk, I’m here.”

Being a good friend doesn’t require an instruction manual nor do you need to be a professional to know that they might need additional support. Don’t worry about finding the perfect words to say, just be there and let them know they have your support.

There are some guidelines while being a supportive friend:

  • Don’t give ultimatums. For example, don’t say “If you don’t stop hurting yourself, I won’t be friends with you anymore.”
  • Don’t tease or share private information in group settings or group chats. Respect your friend’s feelings.
  • Don’t get frustrated if your friend doesn’t have the same perspective as you about the situation.
  • Don’t shame, blame, or guilt your friend for his or her feelings or actions. Avoid accusing statements with “you”– instead use “I.” For example don’t say “You are being irresponsible and reckless,” rather say “I’m concerned that you might hurt yourself and that makes me worry since I care about you.”
  • Don’t engage in activities that will likely make things worse such as using alcohol or other drugs to distract from negative feelings.
  • Don’t take their behavior or comments personally.

Most of all, take care of yourself don’t give up and. Keeping a positive attitude will help your friend stay strong and provide them strength to be healthy and get better.

Below are some organizations that are there to help everyone who is in need.

  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration
  • National Alliance on Mental Health, 1-800–950-6264 - www.NAMI.org
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org (For SPANISH, press 2)

As always, encourage them to see a doctor, school health services or a trained professional.