Wednesday, 27 January 2016

How To Support A Friend With Depression

"It's not your job to fix them but you can be there, you can listen and you can point them in the direction of positivity and further support."
- Holly Burns

Living with someone who is suffering from depression can be hard. It's hard to watch someone you love get swallowed up. It's hard to watch them lose interest in the things that they love, to struggle with things they would usually find easy and to pull away from the world. To see someone you love crying or being despondent and not knowing what you can do to make it better.

I think the most important thing that I've learnt about supporting someone experiencing depression is that you can't fix them. It's not your job to fix them but you can be there, you can listen and you can point them in the direction of positivity and further support.

From personal experience I know that depression can be isolating and people sometimes push away their loved ones because they might worry about being a burden or the cognitive dissonance of being unconditionally loved is just oddly painful. So it's the little things that really matter. 

Give them time and space and be patient. Give them the opportunity to talk if they need to. Not being angry at them or upset with them if they cancel plans or don't text back and still just being there. Not taking it personally if they push you away. Text messages that are just that, not an invitation, or a question or anything that puts pressure on a response. Just a message to show them that you are thinking about them.

A cup of tea, a good old fashioned hug, a tissue if they've been crying, an open conversation and a gentle reminder that you love them. A 10 minute walk outside can do wonders for someone who is depressed. Depression (and the anxiety that often accompanies it) can often make things feel overwhelming. Simple, low stress ways to get back into life can be helpful. Watch some comedy, look at panda videos on YouTube together, go out for lunch, grab a colouring book or a small all-in-one craft project and be creative. It's often easier to talk if there's a task. Talk about options, how they might seek help and remind them that they're not alone.

At Student Minds we want to give students a simple way to share the positive things they do for their mental health and how they tackle feelings of depression and low mood. A Ripple Tip is a short, quick recommendation of something which works for a student to support their own mental health, which can be used by other students.

Have you experienced depression or low mood? Share your advice through Ripple Tips

We are also looking for blog posts about your experiences of low mood and depression, what it is like to experience it and what advice you may give to others. 

Click the link for other ways to get involved with the Ripple campaign

The Student Minds Look After Your Mate Guide gives further advice about how you can support a friend at university. 

Holly writes more about her experiences on her blog, which you can check out here. 

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