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I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with depression. How can I help?Comments(0)
I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with depression. How can I help?
The first thing you can do is pray. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools against depression. Depression is the devil telling us things are hopeless. He uses depression to take our focus off of our Savior. Prayer reestablishes our focus on Him. Pray for your friend and with your friend. “Pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Prayer is your single greatest weapon right now on behalf of your friend; don’t underestimate its power!
Another thing you can do is seek to understand. To understand, you have to really listen. It’s human nature to get wrapped up in the emotions of people you care about. You’ll have to make a conscious effort to remain positive around your friend so that you yourself don’t become depressed or an emotional hostage. Being positive will have a good influence on your friend and will help you really hear important things she’s saying instead of just getting caught up in all of her sorrow.
Don’t say too much. It’s hard to be positive and not say anything at the same time, but listening and understanding take concentration. Be positive in your expressions and demeanor. That will free up the rest of your senses to pick up on the positives in your friend’s situation.
Anyone who has breath has something to be positive about. It could be family, friends, school. You’ll hear something positive—even if it’s just a little thing—if you listen long and carefully enough. Ask questions about the positive things when you can. Someone who’s depressed may tend to minimize the good things in their life, but if they talk about them long enough, they may start to feel better.
Try getting your friend to go out in nature and exercise a little bit, no matter what the season. Being out in nature has a calming and uplifting effect on people. Taking a walk, playing a game of Frisbee in the park, hiking, and other outdoor activities will help. Depression tends to keep people indoors and out of nature. But God is revealed in nature: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20). Getting back to nature will lessen the depression.
Depending on the severity of the depression, your friend may need ongoing professional help. There’s nothing wrong with getting help. Try convincing her to seek it for herself. But if she won’t, you’re not breaking confidentiality if all you do is alert an appropriate person, such as a school counselor, to the fact that your friend needs to talk with someone who has professional training. You may save a life.
I worked for eight years with guys who were college age, and every year someone attempted suicide because of depression. Even though I got training every year in suicide prevention, I called in professionals when I thought there was a need. Tell someone if you feel overwhelmed, confused, or scared as you try to help your friend.
By supporting this person, you’re doing the right thing and being a good friend. I want to encourage you to stay positive for your friend and keep praying. Christ said that whatever you do to help anyone, it’s the same as if you’re doing it for Him (see Matthew 25:40). And Proverbs 17:17 says: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
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