How can Family and Friends Help somebody with Depression?

Family and friends have a connection with the depressed person. You can play an important role in the depressed person’s life. Be aware of the power of your words. If you express kindness in what you say, you can be God’s instrument of hope to help change the disposition of one who is depressed. “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (Proverbs 12:25)

Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts helping the Depressed:

  • Instead of saying: “You shouldn’t feel that way.” Rather say, “I care about what you are feeling.” Ask, “Would you like to share your feelings with me?” Say, “If ever you want to talk, I’m here for you.” “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” (Proverbs 20:5)
  • Don’t say: “You must eat! Think of all the starving children in Africa.” Rather say: “Even if we’re not hungry, we both need to eat. A car needs gas for energy – we both need food for energy.” Bring nutritious food to their home. Take them out to eat or perhaps on a picnic.  Encourage healthy eating habits. (No junk food, no sugar – sugar gives a temporary high, then the blood sugar drops, creating the “sugar blues.”) The Bible says we need to have … “Food for the stomach.” (1 Corinthians 6:13)
  • Try not to say: “You need to quit taking that medicine.” Say: “Not all medicines work the same for everyone. I’ll go with you to get a thorough medical evaluation so that the doctor can make sure the medicine is working for you.” Talk specifically to a competent doctor who specialises in depression. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)
  • Don’t say: “You just need to pray more.” Rather say: “I’m praying for you, and I’m going to keep praying.” Pray with them, and tell them you are praying for them. Ask specifically, “How can I pray for you today?” “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” (1 Samuel 12:23)
  • Instead of saying, “You just need to read the Bible more!” try to say: “There are several passages in the Bible that have given me much hope, and I’ve written them out for you. May I share them with you?” Give them hope-filled Scriptures to read three times a day: after awakening, midday, and bedtime. (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 130:5). Help them memorise Scripture. (Philippians 4:6–8; 4:13, 19). “They cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.” (Psalm 107:19–20)
  • Don’t say: “You need to get involved in a church.” Rather you can say: “I’m involved in a church where I’ve been learning how meaningful life can be. I would love for you to come with me next Sunday, and afterward we can have lunch together.” Invite them to come to church with you. Involve them in a small group Bible study. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)
  • Before you say: “Snap out of it! Get over it!” Rather say: “I’m going to stick with you, and we’ll get through this together.” Admit, “I don’t know everything I wish I knew, but I’m willing to help.” State, “If you can’t hold on to God, hold on to me because I’m holding on to God.” “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24).