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How to Help Your Friends Deal With Depression, According to an Expert

You can't always tell how a person is feeling...but if you suspect your loved ones are not feeling their usual best, clinical psychotherapist Radhika S. Bapat shares what you can do to help.

The Coronavirus pandemic has not only taken a toll on our physical health but also on our mental well-being. Anxiety, stress and depression are at a peak. So, if someone you know is not feeling their best or has confided in you about their mental health, here's what you can do.

Clinical psychotherapist Radhika S Bapat says, "Asking someone if they are “okay” will usually garner the response “yes, I am” and so, psychologists usually refrain from asking this question. It can also make someone feel disempowered to be at the receiving end of that question. It is better to start with talking about how lucky you feel that you and your friend can virtually see each other and then move into talking about how you (yourself) have been. You can share what you’re struggling with during this pandemic and ask for advice. While at it, you can also ask what they’ve been working on, and how’s it going for them?"

Give space along with attention

"If you suspect that they are having a hard time, make sure to be a friend indeed, which means, check in on them often, allow yourself to show your own vulnerabilities to them, giving them space to also show theirs. Let them know that they are important to you. Make sure to not be too pushy, and offer them an article to read that might have helped you."

Be a good listener

Above all other forms of support, being there for someone sometimes involves giving them unconditional support and just being a good listener. To empathize with how someone feels, it is important to support them without pitying them. Most times people like to know that they are heard and understood without good/bad, right/wrong judgments, and many times they don’t want advice. It helps to directly ask them, how and in what capacity you be of assistance to them? Gestures of kindness can include non-verbal offerings and don’t always have to be stated." 

If you suspect, however, that they are in danger of harming themselves, do not leave them alone. In the situation of the present pandemic, if you are at a distance from them, let a mature family member or another friend corroborate your suspicions in order for them to get access to help from a trained professional as quickly as possible.