Supporting people who are experiencing depression or anxiety.

Depression or anxiety will effect most people, if not everyone, at some point during our lives; whether its a personal first-hand experience or witnessing someone else go through it.

Either way, we should all consider the correct, sensible ways to approach the situation. Now the following ‘dos & don’ts’ I am about to highlight are quite obvious, but I thought I’d share them with you as some people don’t know how to react when they identify that someone is depressed or anxious. 

What to do:

  • Be empathetic. Most people who are depressed or anxious just want to be reasurred that they aren’t alone in feeling the way they do. Opening up & sharing your experience is part of empathy, & allows people to confide in each other.
  • Give advice & support if possible. If the person you want to support is feeling depressed or anxious because of a certain situation, suggest ways for them to learn how to cope with their emotions. Common non-professional support & coping techniques which you could suggest include: slow breathing for calming, sports, meditation, art, music, socialising regularly, reading etc.

What not to do:

  • Don’t interrupt the person who is confiding in you. Sometimes we want to help someone so much that we forget to let people vent their thoughts and worries. Listening is the first, important  step which allows us to understand why someone if feeling depressed or anxious. Without allowing a person to confess their feelings, the wrong advice & support can be given. The person may even continue to feel lonely or unable to discuss what is on their mind, all because time wasn’t given for them to express everything that they have been keeping to themselves.
  • Don’t say or assume everything is going to be ‘okay’. Saying things such as ‘you’ll be ok’ or ‘don’t worry, you are strong enough to get through this’ isn’t good enough. That’s not going to solve their issues, nor allow them to come to terms with their problems. Its fine to say those positive things, as long as your words are followed by some advice or a clear indication that you will support them no matter what happens. Additionally, it is important to respect & accept the fact that professional help maybe needed in these situations. Aiding & encouraging someone to access professional support is a must in extreme cases. I really urge you to understand the importance of this.  

On a lighter note, I’d like to end this post with a quote: ‘Given love & opportunity, every child & adult can recover. All who know this & have the capacity to help others should assist as they can’ – Dallin H. Oaks.

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