One good thing that came out of Robin William’s death is that we are once again talking about depression. Depression can be a silent killer and still has a stigma despite the numbers of people who struggle with it in any give year. We don’t like to talk about it, mostly because we don’t know what to say or worry we might say the wrong thing.
So we avoid or stay silent. Worse, we offer platitudes that make the depressed person feel even worse.
No one likes to hear, “Snap out of it,” Think of all the good things in your life,” or the classic, “Time heals all wounds.” Those phrases accentuate powerlessness, guilt and hopelessness because at the moment, none of it feels true.
So how do you respond when someone tells you he/she isn’t having a good day or is depressed?
1. Try to talk the person out of being depressed. This is like trying to talk someone out of having high blood pressure.
2. Minimize their pain.
3. Tell them you know just how they feel. You really don’t.
1. Comfort with a statement of empathy, “It must be difficult,” or “I see you are really struggling.”
2. Encourage the person to get through the moment, not the entire day.
3. Listen a lot. Be in the moment with the person.
4. Stay connected with the person via text or short messages. A brief, “Praying for you” is good.
5. Offer help if the person seems receptive–depression is treatable.
6. Be available when the person is ready to talk. Isolation plays on the mind in negative ways.
7. If someone confides in you that he/she is suicidal, stay with the person and tell someone. Immediate assessment is needed.
8. Phrases like, “I don’t really know what to say, but I am here” are helpful.
9. Pray with the person and assure him or her of God’s presence. He doesn’t avoid us when we are depressed. He does know our sorrow and pain.
10. Read Scripture that assures of God’s presence, comfort and hope in Him. The Word is powerful!