What You Can Actually Do to Help Someone Battling Depression

The post is based on my personal experiences. I am not a mental health professional. As always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. Please contact a professional if you or someone you know needs help. This post is not intended to replace professional assistance.

988 suicide and crisis lifeline

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States.

Have you ever been sitting in the moment where suicide seems like the only option? I have. And to be honest, I  was not in an emotional state to make a logical thought long enough to reach out to a friend or family member. I certainly was not about to call the hotline number.

The hotline can be a great resource for some, but what can YOU actually do to help someone battling this dark pit of hell inside of their head?

With the shocking news of celebrity tWitch ending his own life, I have seen an abundance of posts with the hotline number and people saying to reach out to them if you are feeling suicidal. My question to you is: what is your response if someone tells you they want to end their life? Your mom, your son, your best friend, your spouse.
You would probably have no idea how to respond. Do you send them away with the hotline number and hope for the best? Respond by telling them how amazing their life is and that they have no reason to be feeling that way? Tell them they are crazy? Respond with love but brush it off and go about your day because “they’re probably just looking for attention”? Tell them how selfish of a decision that would be and you can’t believe they would even consider that?
As someone who has struggled deeply with depression and has contemplated suicide in the past, here are some ways you may actually be able to help.

Be someone that others feel comfortable communicating with.

Be someone that people can share their honest emotions with at all times, even big and confusing emotions. This especially starts at home with your kids. Allow them to come to you with anything. This also requires you to be open with your emotions in return.

A lot of times, someone who is battling severe depression has a mind swarming with thoughts. Thoughts of failure. Or thoughts of everything they need to get done but don’t have the mental capacity right now to do. Thoughts of burdening their loved ones. Constant thoughts about all of the people that would have better lives without them. The thoughts are endless, and they are mean.

Be someone that your loved ones can open up to–just word vomit whatever feelings they have. They don’t need to make sense to you, but just allowing them to get it out of their head can be a huge help. If the thoughts get trapped up there for too long, they will drown them.

Remind them they are not alone despite how lonely they may feel.

Do NOT tell them that they have no reason to be feeling this way and that their life has too many blessings to feel this way. It’s likely they already know that. By saying that, it reassures them that they are burdening you. It might even further convince them that ending their life truly is the only escape.

Instead, you can remind them they are loved and needed. Remind them that their mind is battling a heavy enemy and that you are there to help them gear up and fight back. Remind them they are not alone and, though you may not understand what they are feeling, you are there to just be with them.

What You Can Actually Do to Help Someone Battling Depression

Hug them.

A long, tight hug. Don’t let go until you feel their bodies drop and the tears roll. Feeling another human being’s warmth and heartbeat can help them start to feel reality again. It does not fix their depression or anxiety, but it can keep them here with you and allow time for them get help. Which brings me to my next point.

Help them get help.

They cannot and likely will not do it on their own. Help them find a compatible therapist that can teach them ways to work through their bodies’ stress response. Help them find someone that can provide them with tools to work through it. Without proper treatment for depression, they will likely face this again over and over in their lifetime. TWitch got to a point where he could not see past the heaviness of it all and didn’t get to see that there is hope on the other side. His family is probably wondering what they could have done, but sometimes the help of a professional is what is really needed.

If you are experiencing these thoughts, please find people in your tribe that you can openly communicate with. You are needed and you are loved. There are people that understand what you are going through, and there are people that want to help you make it through to tomorrow.

If you know someone experiencing depression, stop what you are doing right now and reach out to them. Heck, stop what you are doing and reach out to people that you think “are way too happy to be depressed” because those are usually the friends and family members that need you to see through their smile the most.
Be their safe place to express any emotion they are feeling. Remind them how loved they are and that you need them here with you. Hug them as tight as you can and help them get the professional help they need. You cannot fix them but you can love and support them.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.