Last month I said I was going to write up some tips for people that want to help and support their friends/family that are depressed because in the past I had found it hard to find good resources.
Then a couple days later this TED talk was posted “How to Connect With Depressed Friends”, how great is that!
The main thing I took away from the video was to not make a big deal of it, not to try to fix it, and not to make the person bad for having it. He says don’t feel like you have to be Dr. Phil, … think of trying to be more like Ellen.
Watch the video for more tips.
This advice isn’t just applicable to hanging out with depressed people, in all of the books I’ve read they always echo similar strategies, such as repeating what’s been said, to show you're hearing the other person more than trying to offer solutions. So you can try these out all the time with anyone you're interacting with.
Aside from that talk, in the past I ran across another TED talk where Dr. Ilardi outlines 6 steps to recovery, aimed at the patient, but I took them as a way to choose what to do when we did get together. 1) Omega-3, 2) Anti-Ruminate 3) Exercise 4) Light Exposure 5) Social Support and 6) Sleep Hygiene (link).
Based on this knowledge I would always try meet up for a walk in the park. Doing this wouldn’t fully satisfy the list, but it would help towards four of them in one go.
For those of you who feel you want to try to do more, and you want to be like Ellen as suggested above, but running a game on her show rather than just chatting on the couch, check out this TED Talk.
This is a new approach and if you think you're friend is up for it check it out a bit more then send them some links to see what they think. (link to more info)
Aside from that, despite what I remembered in terms of not too many brochures for the people around those with depression, when you search they do come up now
Here's one that was near the top of the list
Here's one with suggested things to say
So to wrap it up, I'd say make sure to let the person know you're there for them. Watch/read things to try to get a sense of what they're going through. If you're unsure of something, ask them questions. In general though try not to get into a fixing mode or make them feel bad for being depressed. And you may feel hesitant to call 911 since you don't call it too often, but if you suspect your friend may hurt themselves or others just call 911 as mentioned in the guides above.