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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 April 6, 2020

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

1. Be Authentic

To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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2. Listen

Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

3. Become an Expert

Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

4. Lead with Story

From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

5. Lead by Example

It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

6. Catch People Doing Good

A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

7. Be Effusive with Praise

It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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10. Understand Your Lane

If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

Final Thoughts

Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

More Tips About Making Influence

Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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