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How to Help a Friend With Depression Learn to Love Life Again

How to Help a Friend With Depression Learn to Love Life Again

While there seems to be a ton of articles and advice available that is tailored for those who are struggling with depression, there doesn’t seem to be too many articles made for those who have friends that are struggling with depression. However, helping a friend through difficult times is just as important!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with depression, depression is a mental illness, and can be mild or severe in nature. It is characterized by a persistent somber mood and a lack of interest or excitement in life and activities.

Clinically speaking, depression can be mild, moderate, or severe in presentation. To be officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, as noted in the DSM-5, a person must consult with and be under treatment from a mental health professional. However, many people suffer the symptoms of depression regardless of whether they have an official diagnosis.

If you know someone close to you who is dealing with depression and needs some extra support in coping with symptoms of depression, here are some tips to help your friend cope and learn to love life again!

1. Remind Them That They’re Important and Loved

Depression has the ability to make someone feel as though they are not important or loved. This could not be further from the truth! However, those who are dealing with depression may not be able to see this.

The most important thing that you can do for your friend is let them know that you are there, and that you care about them immensely. Although this may not settle in immediately for your friend, this type of support reminds them that their contributions are important and will help them to find the motivation to seek out options for recovery.

Even more important, you must back up this emotional support with supportive actions. If your friend needs help with anything, make sure to go out of your way to prove that they can rely on you to help them out in their time of need.

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When your friend begins to see that they have the support of another person, they will begin to realize that they are worthy of love and happiness, which plays a big role in the recovery process.

2. Reintroduce Activities That They Used to Love

As was stated earlier in the article, depression often prevents a person from enjoying the activities that they used to love.

One of the biggest tips that health websites provide for those dealing with depression is to continue doing activities that previously enjoyed doing, even if it offers no joy at the moment.

When you have time, reach out to your friend and plan an event that you can do together at some point during the week. Ask them what they used to enjoy before they became depressed and take note of these activities so you can schedule more plans in the future.

These plans will help them to get out of the house, get back into their old lives, and guide them towards the realization that they are not alone and have people that they can rely on.

3. Provide a Safe and Secure Place to Vent Their Feelings

Not everyone understands depression and this lack of understanding can sometimes cause people to get frustrated with people who are depressed and who are struggling to be positive or find the light.

Patience is a virtue, however, and it is important that you remain patient and withhold judgment while your friend is going through this difficult time.

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Give them a secure place to vent their feelings and lend them an ear without attempting to give them unsolicited advice. Individuals who are dealing with depression just need someone to connect with and talk to. This can make a world of difference!

Of course, if they do ask for your advice and you think you have something to offer them, go for it! If you don’t know what to say, however, it is sometimes better to say nothing than to say the wrong thing.

You can even recommend that they seek help from a mental health professional if you feel that you are not equipped to offer the advice that they are looking for.

4. Offer Words of Encouragement and Positivity 

There is nothing better than feeling terrible and hearing kind and uplifting words from your friend.

If you notice that your friend is beginning to experience self-doubt or starting to talk down to themselves when they are around you, offer kind words and remind them of who they are.

Depression often provides people with a view of themselves through a distorted lens. Treating depression calls for challenging negative thoughts, which can be hard if you’re coping on your own and do not have any reminders of who you used to be.

Lift your friend up when possible and reintroduce them to that older version of themselves so they can begin challenging those thoughts on their own.

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It is also important to note that you shouldn’t overdo it when it comes to encouragement and positivity. Not everyone dealing with depression has a high tolerance for these things and pushing positivity on someone could have the opposite effect desired!

5. Use Humor to Heal

They say that laughter is the best medicine. This is especially true when it comes to depression!

In fact, one study conducted by the Sapienza University of Rome found that laughter can actually improve your mood and lessen the effects of the symptoms that one experiences while dealing with depression.

Whenever you’re with your friend, make your best effort to make them laugh. No matter what they find funny, even if it is usually slightly inappropriate, take those jokes and use them to your advantage.

Just a simple giggle can have a huge effect on the way that your friend feels. Even if you only manage to alleviate their feelings for a second, that second can really improve their outlook of the future.

6. Show Them You Care by Doing Little Things

Yes, grand gestures of affection can certainly show someone that you care. However, it is often the little things that really make others light up and feel better about themselves and life in general.

Make an effort to show your friend you care about them and their happiness by doing little things that matter to them.

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For example, you could do something as simple as hiding small notes of encouragement around their house and belongings or by giving some of their favorite treats each day.

Whichever actions say “I care about you” to your friend, go out of your way to do those things and watch them light up in response.

7. Help Them Create a Valuable Support System

Here’s the truth: you aren’t going to be able to help your friend deal with everything on your own. They are going to need other people in their life and you are going to have to take breaks to take of yourself as well.

People who are dealing with depression need a solid support system to help them get on the road to recovery so that they can return to their happiness.

Reach out to other friends within your and your friend’s friend group and see what they can do to help your friend love life again.

By creating a solid support system, you will have an even easier time supporting your friend and helping to usher them back into the light.

Life is a truly beautiful thing, and those who are dealing with depression just need to be reminded of that. By using these 7 tips above, you will have no problem helping your friend find their happiness once again!

Did you have any questions that weren’t answered in this article or did you need more in-depth information about depression? Take a look at more of the depression-related content posted within our Mental Strength section. 

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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Dylan Buckley

Dylan is Lifehack's Motivation Expert specializing in self-development, with extensive experience working for life coaches and startups.

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Last Updated on September 17, 2019

10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

10 Simple Ways To Always Think Positive Thoughts

Positive thinking can lead to a lot of positive change in your life. Developing an optimistic outlook can be good for both your physical and mental health.

But sometimes, certain situations arise in life that makes it hard to keep a positive outlook. Take steps to make positive thinking become more like your second nature and you’ll reap the biggest benefits.

Here are 10 ways to make thinking positive thoughts easy:

1. Spend Time with Positive People

If you surround yourself with constant complainers, their negativity is likely to rub off on you.

Spend time with positive friends and family members to increase the likelihood that their positive thinking habits will become yours too. It’s hard to be negative when everyone around you is so positive.

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2. Take Responsibility for Your Behavior

When you encounter problems and difficulties in life, don’t play the role of the victim. Acknowledge your role in the situation and take responsibility for your behavior.

Accepting responsibility can help you learn from mistakes and prevent you from blaming others unfairly.

3. Contribute to the Community

One of the best ways to feel good about what you have, is to focus on what you have to give.

Volunteer in some manner and give back to the community. Helping others can give you a new outlook on the world and can assist you with positive thinking.

4. Read Positive and Inspirational Materials

Spend time each day reading something that encourages positive thinking. Read the Bible, spiritual material, or inspirational quotes to help you focus on what’s important to you in life. It can be a great way to start and end your day.

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Some recommendations for you:

5. Recognize and Replace Negative Thoughts

You won’t be successful at positive thinking if you’re still plagued by frequent negative thoughts. Learn to recognize and replace thoughts that are overly negative. Often, thoughts that include words like “always” and “never” signal that they aren’t true.

If you find yourself thinking something such as, “I always mess everything up,” replace it with something more realistic such as, “Sometimes I make mistakes but I learn from them.”

There’s no need to make your thoughts unrealistically positive, but instead, make them more realistic.

6. Establish and Work Toward Goals

It’s easier to be positive about problems and setbacks when you have goals that you’re working toward. Goals will give you motivation to overcome those obstacles when you encounter problems along the way. Without clear goals, it’s harder to make decisions and gauge your progress.

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Learn to set SMART goals to help you achieve more.

7. Consider the Consequences of Negativity

Spend some time thinking about the consequences of negative thinking. Often, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, a person who thinks, “I probably won’t get this job interview,” may put less effort into the interview. As a result, he may decrease his chances of getting the job.

Create a list of all the ways negative thinking impacts your life. It likely influences your behavior, your relationships, and your feelings. Then, create a list of the ways in which positive thinking could be beneficial.

8. Offer Compliments to Others

Look for reasons to compliment others. Be genuine in your praise and compliments, but offer it frequently. This will help you look for the good in other people.

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9. Create a Daily Gratitude List

If you start keeping a daily gratitude list, you’ll start noticing exactly how much you have to be thankful for. This can help you focus on the positive in your life instead of thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the day.

Getting in the habit of showing an attitude of gratitude makes positive thinking more of a habit. Here’re 40 Simple Ways To Practice Gratitude.

10. Practice Self-Care

Take good care of yourself and you’ll be more equipped to think positively.

Get plenty of rest and exercise and practice managing your stress well. Taking care of your physical and mental health will provide you with more energy to focus on positive thinking.

Learn about these 30 Self-Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit.

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Featured photo credit: DESIGNECOLOGIST via unsplash.com

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