Depression can come in all shapes and sizes, there is no ‘one size fits all’ with this terrible illness, so while you may know a lot about depression, the first thing to do is accept that you don’t know everything about what someone else is going through. It’s best not to generalise, but here are a few tips that should help no matter how the illness is affecting them.
Ask them what they need
Anytime they tell you they feel low, ask them, “What can I do?” or “Can I get you anything?”. It may just be a hug or a cup of tea, but it’ll mean the world. And if they ask for space, don’t take offence. It won’t be anything personal, sometimes we just like to be left alone.
Be trustworthy, and listen
Nobody is going to pour their heart out to someone who is distracted by their phone or who couldn’t care less. And nobody would want to tell their life story only for it to turn into office gossip. Let them know their voice is being heard, and that you care.
Chances are, their depression is making them feel weak and hopeless, so it’s best not to be in their face 24/7 asking them 20 questions and forcing them to go outside or see a doctor before they’re ready because you think it will help. Slow down, calm down, and just be there for them.
I saved the most important one for last, don’t blame someone for their illness. People get depression for a number of reasons and it’s important never to judge, laugh, or make them feel inferior because of it. Their reasons may not matter to you, but that doesn’t make them invalid. They got ill because of it, after all, and who are you to judge how they feel?
Unfortunately mental health stigma is still alive and well, but hopefully with increased awareness and understanding, it won’t be such a scary thing to admit anymore.