In honor of World Mental Health Day, we wanted to share some helpful information on what living with depression means and what it might feel like for a close friend or loved one. Our hope is that this post will help others understand more about this serious condition and how they can find encouraging ways to support their friend’s journey to recovery.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people each year. An individual living with depression may feel helpless, irritable, angry, hopeless, self-loathing, chronically tired, or fatigued. It’s also common for a person living with depression to develop an anxiety disorder or vise versa (Anxiety and Depression Association of America).

Common Misconception About Depression

Depression is Just a Phase: Depression is a serious disorder that affects a person’s energy level, motivation, and feelings towards others or how others feel about him or her (HelpGuide.com). Though treatable, symptoms of depression can persist throughout a person’s lifetime, meaning it’s not something you can just “get over.” A combination of medication management and individual therapy may be necessary to help you regain your optimism and energy in order to improve your mental health and wellness.

People Don’t Want to Talk About Their Depression: It’s understandable that you may feel nervous about approaching the subject of depression, especially when it concerns a friend or a loved one. Questions may arise, such as

  • How do I begin the conversation?
  • What if I offend my friend?
  • Will I trigger a negative reaction if I bring it up?

Although everyone will experience symptoms of depression individually, the encouragement friends receive from you will greatly impact their ability to cope with their symptoms and ask for help. The best way to start the conversation may be to ask how long your friend has been feeling a certain way or to note that you’ve noticed your friend seems down lately, so you wanted to check in. Your friend may be hesitant to talk at first, but by you opening up the line of communication and checking in on your friend periodically with an attitude of hope and support, you’re making it easier for the conversation to begin.

If your friends are showing certain risky behaviors, such as thoughts of suicide, recklessness toward their health/safety, or showing extreme signs of hopelessness, contact the Suicide Prevention Line to get immediate support and help.

Depression is a Mindset You Can Change: We all experience sadness over a breakup, job loss, death in the family, etc., as it’s an essential part of the grieving process. But when these feelings persist for longer periods, and they begin to affect our daily routines, relationships with others, and how we perceive our ourselves or worth, we’re experiencing depression, and the longer it goes ignored and untreated, the more dangerous it becomes.

Help Your Friends Find Their Voice

Depression can make your friend feel helpless and alone. Understanding the signs and symptoms of this mental health condition and how it can impact a loved one is the first step to helping them find the support they need. Today, we encourage you to reach out to a close friend or loved ones experiencing symptoms of depression and show them you’re here to support them throughout their journey to recovery.