Depression can be relentless when it wants to defeat a person, which doesn't make helping a struggling loved one very simple. The fear of burdening others can cause someone to isolate themselves and in turn, those who care have to be extracautious to prevent him or her from retreating any further. To find out the best way to aid friends and family with depression, we spoke with Dr. Alison Darcy, a Stanford clinical psychologist and CEO of therapy startup Woebot.
Darcy noted that you should most importantly be mindful about how the person will receive your words. "It's a really tricky one, because particularly when people feel depressed, they can interpret things as further evidence of what they already think; they're a loser, for example," she said. "And somebody coming along making accusatory statements just sort of feeds into that idea."
To avoid making them feel like they're being attacked, Darcy advises to share how you're feeling rather than pointing the finger. An example includes: "'I've noticed the things that you're doing are really different to what you normally are, and you just don't seem as happy and I feel really worried'" versus something like, "You never leave the house anymore, what's wrong with you?" The latter might make him or her defensive and not feel comfortable enough to open up to you.
"That's a very different message because you're not confronting somebody," Darcy said. "You should always share how you feel and let them know you're worried, and that you're there ready to listen if they want to talk through stuff."