Life is not a bed of roses and it comes with a lot of ups and downs. We all have good and bad days in our lives. Some events make us sad for a short period but some events leave a long-lasting impact on our lives.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 264 million people suffering from depression globally.
We often come across situations when we witness that one of our friends are going through a rough patch in life or have been facing difficulties in personal or professional lives.
22 Ways to comfort someone who is sad or depressed
Naturally, you would want to reach out to them and will try to help them get out of that feeling.
A sad person might not be dealing with one situation at a time and the root cause of his sadness could be a variety of reasons.
The prolonged sadness can take a person towards suicidal thoughts if the situation is mishandled.
According to WHO, eight hundred thousand people commit suicide each year due to depression, making it the second biggest cause of death.
That is why it is very important to know what to say and how to handle such a situation.
Know the symptoms:
Quite often, we listen to people associating their symptoms with depression and anxiety but there is a big difference between getting sad for a short period and suffering from depression.
Experiencing failure in an examination or losing a loved one can cause someone to be sad and that feeling can last for some time, especially in a later example.
It is not easy to overcome the feeling of losing a loved one and usually in preceding week people tend to become normal again.
However, if that does not happen then it means the person is slipping into depression.
Let us first understand the symptoms of depression.
Among the following symptoms of depression, if a person has five or more symptoms and they are experiencing it for a period of more than two weeks then it is very much probable that the person is suffering from depression.
However, it is very crucial to contact a doctor in that case.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Lack of energy
- Guilt feeling, the feeling of being worthlessness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty in remembering details and decision making
- Lacking appetite or sudden increase
- Depressed mood
- Losing interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Feeling anxious, empty and persistently sad
- Aches, pains, headaches and cramps for no apparent reason
- Digestive problems
The symptoms mentioned above are very common and it is very easy to confuse them with clinical depression.
Therefore, it is very important to consult a doctor and let them diagnose instead of getting worried about depression for no reason.
Other than seeking medical help from a trained doctor, the people around the person are very important.
Their behavior and how they deal with that person makes a lot of difference.
Know what to say:
First of all, know what to say and when to say.
When you are with a person who is feeling sad or going through depression then it is very important to know when to jump in and when you let them flow.
If you cut them off at some point they might get disconnect with you emotionally and can feel an urgent need to isolate themselves.
Every person has a different type of personality and has different challenges and experiences in life.
That is why do not try to link yourself with their condition without knowing the actual dynamics and feelings of that person.
See if they want to talk:
Reach out to your friend and let them know that you can feel they are sad and going through a tough time.
Every person has a different personality and therefore some people go into isolation, as they feel sad.
They become lone wolves.
When you reach out to them just tell them that you notice their condition, do not push them to talk to you or immediately open up to you.
At times, the cause of their sadness and depression could be very personal, and pushing them to talk to you may further exacerbate their condition.
Take your conversation slow and give them time to decide and muster up the courage to share with you.
Do not beat around the bush:
Try to understand, what’s it’s like when the next person feels very down. You need to have a positive phycology mindset.
If you already know why the other person is sad then it is better not to ask them about it.
For example, if someone has lost their parents, then it is apparent what is making them feel sad or depressed.
In these situations, it is better to sit near them and affirm that you are sorry for their loss.
At this point, you are trying to start a conversation without pushing the person. If you are not there in person but you are concerned about your friend then give them a video call so that you both connect well by looking at each other.
Ask how they feel:
Ask your friend how they are feeling about that particular situation, this will give you an insight into what the person is actually going through and what is there thought process.
At times when a patient who has been suffering from a particular disease for a long time dies, the family members do feel sad about the death but they also feel relieved and that makes them feel guilty about it.
It is always better to first know what you are dealing with.
Show them that you care:
People who are going through a rough phase in their lives often feel lonely too.
Showing them that you care will mean a lot to them and this can be the first step towards they opening up to you for a conversation where they share their feelings with you.
They might think that nobody would care about their feelings or how they are observing matters.
Simply tell them that “I care about your well-being and that you are sad”.
Being there for them:
It is important to communicate that you are there for them.
Of course, it is not possible to be physically present with them all the time but when you tell them that you are there for them anytime they need you, it emotionally supports the other person. It also gives the feeling of having someone by their side.
See if there is some task that needs to be done, doing that on their behalf or assisting them with that will give a message that you are there for them when they need you the most.
Be a good listener:
It is of the utmost importance that you are a good listener if you want to help someone.
Once they decide to open up to you about their problems and they know that they can count on you, it is important that you just listen to what they have to say.
What is there side of the story and try to understand from their perspective as they walk you through from the corridors of their mind. Do not try to interrupt them while they are sharing their feelings with you.
It is not easy for everyone to share their feelings and if they are sharing with you then it is very crucial that you concentrate all your attention on them.
Listen to what they are saying by turning towards them and facing them.
Put your mobile or any other handheld device away from you and if you were watching something, it is better to switch that off too.
Look them in the eye as they talk to you if you are looking here and there then it will give them a message that you are not very much interested in knowing and they will suddenly go back in their shell.
Another important aspect of being attentive to them is by not talking about yourself or give them your examples.
They might feel that you are only interested in bragging about how you handled the situation rather than listening to them.
In addition, it might be possible that you miss-judge their situation since they did not finish.
It will also break the momentum that was developed during the period and it will be very difficult to gain that momentum back once it is lost.
Do not change the conversation:
As discussed above, it is of utmost importance that you listen to what they have to say and avoid interrupting.
If you suddenly change the conversation into something positive, it might make them feel unrealistic.
It is important to understand that the person who is depressed has been thinking about this issue for a long time and they might have thought about everything that you are telling them to do right now.
This will make them feel that there is not use sharing their feelings; the end result will be the same as before.
Therefore, first, let them finish and make sure you understand them clearly before saying anything.
See if you can assist:
Once you are done listening to your friend and you are sure that you understand their situation, clearly ask them how can you assist them or if there is any way you can help them.
Offering help to someone who is depressed will make them feel good for a moment and they will instantly feel the support you are offering them.
Since we live in a society, which means we all are dependent on other people for one thing or the other, it is also possible that you can help them in any way and their worries about that issue might be gone forever.
However, it is not possible in every condition but you offering your help and assisting will motivate the other person and will give them a feeling of support.
Examining the situation:
People suffering from depression have suicidal thoughts and their overburden mind is not capable to handle the situation well.
That sometimes makes these people take an unhealthy decision and at times suicidal ones.
It is probable that they blame themselves for the issue and have a feeling to hurt themselves or to make themselves suffer to fight their guilt.
People who are already suffering from medical conditions are at a higher risk, for example, those who have cardiovascular diseases.
Those patients with a heart condition are unable to handle stress for a long time and there sadness or depression can quickly result in heart failure.
In such conditions, it is very important to understand that you being there for them, helping them, or talking to them is not enough.
Seeing a doctor is imminent because only a trained doctor can contain such a situation with the help of therapy and medicines.
Communicate with the person:
If one fine morning you decide to take a person to a doctor, they might resist or get further depressed as to why there is a need to see a doctor.
Therefore, if you realize that there is a need to see a psychiatrist or psychotherapist then do share that with the person as well.
They need to know about what is happening, their self-awareness is very crucial to mentally prepare them for what is coming.
At times, it is not easy to come out of trauma, and then fighting the darkness of your depression is another challenge.
Once they know and understand that they need a doctor, they will follow the instructions of the doctor more closely.
Otherwise, if they are in denial that they need help then it is probable that they might skip medications or sessions with their doctors, which can exacerbate the condition even more and pose great risk at the life of the person.
Do not judge:
No matter how close you are to the person, never judge them.
Human mind and behavior is very complex and it is very much possible that you were listening to the person with a set perspective about them, which your mind made before.
That can cloud your judgment about the person’s feelings and the situation they are going through.
Affirm their feeling make sense:
People who are suffering from depression or sad sometimes believe that their feelings do not make sense and they do not have any rational explanation about them.
You probably find their issues minor but for them due to chemical imbalances, those minor issues hurt a lot.
That is why it is important to assure them that their feelings make sense and it is perfectly okay to feel sad or depressed.
Give them a feeling of acceptance.
Otherwise, they will feel sick and freak out completely, which might make them harm themselves physically.
They are not weak:
Sometimes people feel ashamed about their feelings and when they look around and observe other people handling similar situations in a much better manner they feel weak.
That feeling will significantly hamper their will power to fight out of that phase.
Tell them that they are not weak and they have the power to stand up again and fighting this through.
It is not necessary to tell them directly that they are strong because sometimes that is not enough.
Sometimes you have to engage them in some other activity and then appreciate them and make them feel strong.
That appreciation will help them fight their sadness and depression.
Do not leave them alone:
If you know that the condition of the person who is sad or suffering from depression is serious then make sure that you do not leave them alone.
Call them up from time to time to check on them and ask them if they need anything. Some people hesitate to reach out to you when they need it, so it is important that you reach them instead of waiting for them to call you.
In addition, if the situation is more serious, the person has suicidal thoughts, and you do not connect then it can have dire consequences.
Things to avoid:
The person who is sad will be going through a very sensitive phase of their life.
That is why it is important to learn what to say and what not to say.
Describe below are some of the things not say while you are trying to help the person who is sad or suffering from depression.
Never tell the person who is sad or going through a rough phase to “try harder”.
Their life is already hard and tough when they are going through a sensitive phase and by telling them to try harder; they might feel weak and end up demoralizing them.
They will drift away from you and feel hopeless.
It is their fault:
When you tell the person who is sad that the situation they are worried about is all their fault, it will make them feel worst.
It will not only make them feel that it is in all their head but also give them a feeling of being attacked emotionally. Which is the last thing you would want.
Let it go:
Those who are fighting their inner battles finds it hard to even carry out the simplest task that we do in a normal routine.
If they are being asked to let go of the situation, it means that you are underestimating their circumstances and undermining your relation with them.
If it were as simple as it sounds to let go, they would have done that in the first place.
When you listen to someone who is going through depression or has been sad for a while, you might think that the person is very selfish and does not care what is happening around them.
Such comments will trigger the feelings of shame, guilt, and blame in them, which will further exacerbate the situation.