How do I help a friend with depression?Mental Health
Dr Ng Beng Yeong
MBBS, MMed (Psychiatry), FAMS
MOUNT ELIZABETH MEDICAL CENTRE
#15 - 05 Singapore 228510
You can help your friend with depression in many ways. But first, we have to stop being unhelpful first.
The following are not helpful:
- Asking them to snap out of it. They can't.
- Asking them to stop thinking. They can't.
- Asking them to stop being so stressed. It is not just about stress; you will never understand.
But hey, that leads us to... "So, doc, what is actually helpful?"
- Being there. Being there physically and wholeheartedly is a lost art of humanity. Try this: Put your phone to flight mode while you are with your friend and just look at him/her in the eyes. You will be surprised how effective this can be.
- Exercise is a natural antidepressant. Start by walking. Walking in nature has an additional antidepressant effect.
- Regularity. It really is no use doing things once off. Set up a routine. Routines are so powerful and simple that many people become depressed simply because they have no routines. They try to do too much with too little time. Result: Burnouts.
- Being a listening ear. This is actually the hardest thing to do. Most humans will want to solve problems and fix things. That's not helpful. Try to really just listen, nod your head, say like "Hmm", "yes", "I see". Don't get it? It's ok, at least pretend to listen, you will get it.
- Bring them to seek help. This is invaluable. Sometimes, they need professional help. Where to go? You can read about it here.
Take care and your friend will be ok, as long as you stick around.
Dr Paul Ang
MBBS, GDFM, MRCSEd
266C Punggol Way