Suffering from depression can be lonely, scary, and difficult to talk about. But seeing someone you care about struggle is tough, too. Often friends and family feel just as helpless, not knowing what to do or say.
With depression diagnoses on the rise, it's important that we all feel empowered to talk and act. Mental health charity Mind says 1 in 6 people will suffer from the illness at some point in their lives. And, by 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of health problems in the world.
So what's the best way to help a friend with depression? Here, Mind shares their top tips:
1. Encourage them to get help
"Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to encourage your friend to seek appropriate treatment. You can reassure them that it is possible to improve their situation, but you need to do so in a caring and sympathetic way."
2. Send a text
"It takes a lot for someone to say 'I need help', but it doesn't hurt to raise the subject yourself. Sometimes you don't have to explicitly talk about mental health to find out how they are doing—it can be as simple as texting them to let them know you're thinking about them. Or just inviting them out for coffee or dinner or going for a walk together."
3. Get help yourself
"Knowing what to say isn't always easy. Time to Change, the anti-stigma campaign run by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, has useful tips for having conversations about mental health."
4. Don't blame
"Try not to blame the person for feeling anxious or depressed, or tell them to 'pull themselves together.' They are probably already blaming themselves, and criticism is likely to make them feel even worse."
5. Be patient
"Someone with depression may get irritable, and be more liable to misunderstand others—or feel misunderstood—than usual. They may need reassurance in some situations."
6. Watch out for triggers
"There may be certain things that trigger their depression, like stress, relationship problems, or money worries. Try to figure out what those triggers are, then you can spot when an episode might be occurring and encourage them to take action before it gets worse."
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.