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How to Talk to a Friend About Depression

How to Talk to a Friend About Depression

Depression is a very difficult topic to discuss with another person, no matter how close a friend they are

Depression is a very difficult topic to discuss with another person, no matter how close a friend he is in Des Moines. This is true of most mental health conditions because many people tend to treat these health conditions as nothing more than weakness or even a character flaw. It is particularly challenging to address depression because so many who are struggling with depression tend to either see it as nothing other than normal. Add to that a fairly common response of refusing to take any medication or seek counseling for depression, and you are left with a very uncomfortable conversation no matter how you approach. However, you can arm yourself with some information and strategies to ease your awkwardness and more importantly to increase the chance to help your friend or loved one.

A Quick Refresh on What Depression Looks Like

Prior to any conversation, it is vital you make sure you have a good understanding of what depression looks like. As a starter, you have to remember that it is more than just having the blues or having low energy or being grumpy. Some of the more common symptoms of depression include the following:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Irritability and frustration over inconsequential events
  • Increased anger
  • Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable
  • Disruptive sleep patterns—either too much sleep or insomnia
  • Extreme tiredness, even with simple activities
  • Disruptive eating patterns, resulting in quick weight loss or gain
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Feeling worthless
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

If your friend or loved one is expressing a number of these symptoms in Des Moines and has been expressing them for more than five weeks, they may be suffering from depression. However, if these symptoms or not present or have only been present for few days, then it might be sadness or something else. Carefully watch, but don’t open a conversation about major depressive disorder yet. It will not be received well.

How to Talk About Depression

The first thing to keep in mind is that every conversation needs to look different. There is no guaranteed path to a safe and comfortable conversation in Des Moines. Rather, it is almost entirely dependent upon the nature of the relationship you have with your friend or loved one, their personality, your personality and any number of other factors. In other words, take these suggestions into consideration, but also be willing to change them or understand they may be less effective than you hoped.

  • Be specific about what you have noticed – In other words, don’t start the conversation by blurting out you think they should be on meds or see a counselor. Suggest to them that you have noticed a few things that seem a bit different and that you are concerned. Give specific examples of what you have noticed and how these events are different from what you have come to expect from them.
  • Listen to what is happening in their lives – If your friend or loved on agrees with you that things have been off, they may open up and begin to describe the story behind the story, so to speak. You should not try to rush past these confessions or try to push them toward professional help. Just be a friend—listen, and ask questions.
  • Remind them that depression is a mental health condition, not a weakness – There is much shame associated with depression because so many see it as an inability to deal with life. Remind them, more than once if necessary, that there is no guilt in seeking help or being on medication.
  • If you think it’s appropriate, suggest they seek professional help – Depending on how the conversation goes, this step might not be necessary or helpful. If you do choose to suggest it, also offer to help. You can put together with them a list of questions to ask or find a provider in the area. Be sure they know that you are there by their side, for them, supporting them in Des Moines.

You Intrude Because You Care

It is important to understand that there is no avoiding the discomfort of this conversation, no matter what strategies you might choose to employ. While you can certainly minimize missteps and unintentional pain, this is an emotional topic because so many people continue to associate depression with mental weakness or simply a propensity toward sadness. The most important thing you need to communicate, as many times as you can and in as many different ways as possible, is that you are for them. You are not confronting out of anger, disappointment or a desire to control.

Indeed, you are not really confronting at all. Instead, you are opening up a conversation with someone care about because he seems to be less than themselves. You want to see him fully healthy, and you want to help him in any way you possibly can. Actually, this desire is the only reason you are even going through the awkward conversation in the first place—because you care.

If your intervention is received well, seeking professional support may be the next step. If your loved one is ready for a change, there is support available. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admissions counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about your mental health condition. They can help you find your way in Des Moines.


[1], “Depression,” accessed February 7, 2016