“I think my friend is depressed. How do I tell them to get help without offending them?”
This is a very good question so thank you for submitting it. I think the very first thing to note is that if your friend is feeling depressed she/he will very likely welcome the opportunity to talk about it. Most people know when something is wrong but are not always capable of identifying exactly what that is or do not know if anyone will understand. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is ask.
Inquire in a gentle way:
“Lately, I have been wondering if something is bothering you or if you are feeling down?”
- If there is something specific about their behaviour that leads you to believe they are depressed include that in your conversation. For example, “I notice you haven’t wanted to go out anywhere lately, is there a reason?” Or, “I notice you have been irritable a lot lately is everything OK?”
Steps to take if they are feeling depressed:
The main thing you can do to help your friend is to let them know you are available to talk and that if they are feeling depressed you will help them through it.
- You might suggest some reading material such as Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by Dr. David Burns or this is when you might suggest they see their family doctor or a therapist.
- Listen without trying to fix. Often people try to help by saying things like “it’s not so bad” – and although it’s coming from a good place, it’s not what your friend needs to hear right now. Your friend needs to hear that you understand, know they are struggling, and that you acknowledge they are in emotional pain. Instead try saying things like “that sounds really difficult” or “that must be hard for you”.
- Ask them “what do you think you need?”. Be prepared for the answer to be “I don’t know”, to which you can then suggest “maybe talking to someone about it? Like a counsellor or even your doctor?”.
- Let your friend know that you want to help. “I can help you find a good therapist” or even “I’m here to help you through this”.
Linda Williams is a highly skilled Registered Clinical Counsellor with the Summit Counselling Group. Linda has extensive experience as a therapist, writer and lecturer. She has developed educational series and written advice columns for magazines. You can read more about Linda on her bio page, and contact her at 604-558-4898 or through our contact form.
Summit Counselling Group is made up of eight, professional, and compassionate Registered Clinical Counsellors; working with individuals, couples, adults, children, adolescents, and families at our executive West Broadway office in beautiful Vancouver, B.C.
Ask a therapist at Summit Counselling Group. We randomly select one of your questions and answer it on our blog. To submit your anonymous question, just visit our blog page on our website (the message box is on the right hand side). http://summitcounselling.ca/blog/