Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to a loved one about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries he or she will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive.
If you don’t know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. Encourage the depressed person to talk about his or her feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment. And don’t expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.
Ways to start the conversation:
• I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
• Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.
I wanted to check in with you because you have seemed pretty down lately.
Questions you can ask:
• When did you begin feeling like this?
• Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?
• How can I best support you right now?
• Do you ever feel so bad that you don’t want to be anymore?
• Have you thought about getting help?
Remember, being supportive involves offering encouragement and hope. Very often, this is a matter of talking to the person in language that he or she will understand and respond to while in a depressed mind frame.
What you can say that helps:
• You are not alone in this. I’m here for you.
• You may not believe it now, but the way you’re feeling will change.
• I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
• When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold of for just one more day, hour, minute — whatever you can manage.
• You are important to me. Your life is important to me.
• Tell me what I can do now to help you.
• It’s all in your head.
• We all go through times like this.
• Look on the bright side.
• You have so much to live for why do you want to die?
• I can’t do anything about your situation.
• Just snap out of it.
• What’s wrong with you?
• Shouldn’t you be better by now?