- By Remy Marin, Teen Editorial Manager with a personal mission to help every teen de-stress and recognize what truly matters in life.
Learning about depression can be scary enough, but having a friend diagnosed with it can really shake any teen. I would know – it happened to me.
I thought that the classes and informational videos I watched were pretty helpful. I thought “I can handle this.” I knew I would be there to help her. But, as time went on, I found that having a friend with depression wasn’t so black and white.
Through all my education about depression, I was never taught what to do when the diagnosis stage was over and all she needed was a friend to talk to. Do I talk to her about why she’s upset? Do I pretend that everything’s fine? What do I say?
I can’t honestly say I have the exact answer. This is still a new experience for me, and I’m learning as I go. Nevertheless, I’ve picked up a few things in these past few months that I hope will help anyone else who is supporting a depressed friend.
What’s My Role?
One of the hardest parts of the friend role is determining the line between supportive and smothering. I’ve found that the way to keep a balance is by sending simple reminders that you’re there. Texting “Hey, how was your day?” or “How are you feeling?” will invite your friend to come to you without putting her on the spot.
School is a major stress for many teens, and can thus be a weak point for students struggling with depression. While you can’t hold your friend’s hand through every class, you can find other ways to provide support, like having regular study dates. Just being there to lean on can help keep your friend feel calmer when a tough math problem or dense English book makes the pressure seem like too much to handle.
Additionally, try to make the time you do have as valuable as possible. Whether it’s yoga, swimming, or painting, participating in a soothing activity together will conquer two things at one by allowing your friend to be relax and visit with you.
Talk to Me
When a depressed friend comes to you needing to talk, it’s tricky to know what to say. Sometimes that friend might just want you to talk about simple things that are going on in your lives and have a normal conversation.
I would advise that you listen to what she has to say and recognize that her life isn’t easy, but also point out how many people love her and how much she have going for her. It’ll be easier for your friend to hear after venting about stress, and will bring up something positive to think about.
Love, Hope and Support
Most importantly, remind your friend that everything will be okay in the end. Hearing you say that she will get through her depression is much more valuable than being told that by a doctor or a parent. Just saying “you’ll get through this, and I’ll be right here helping you” can make all the difference.
There is nothing easy about supporting a depressed friend. Being aware of where your friend is at and keeping these suggestions in mind will help you get through the gray areas and bring your friend through. Just remember that you are not responsible for curing a depressed friend, and ask for help if you need it. We can all get through this together.