Depression and anxiety disorders are on the rise, but that does not mean you know who is struggling with one.  More often than not, people struggling with depression don’t show clear signs. They may look like they are really enjoying life and constantly make you laugh.  

Because of the “outer shell” they protect themselves with, it can be difficult to know if someone you are close to is struggling.  If you sense that they have a hard time getting out of bed or no longer enjoy hobbies that they once used to, it is important for you to stick by their side and walk beside them as they deal with their demons.

There are many ways you can help a close friend or family member who is dealing with depression and anxiety, but here are some of the things we believe are the most important as their surrounding support:

  1. Express your love and support to them.By sharing your love and empathy to that person, this can be enough to help jumpstart their want for treatment.  It is often that we see clients who may “know” they have support, but they don’t feel supported. When you express this through words, it is clear that your intentions are pure.
  2. Understand your own knowledge and feelings.It is difficult to help someone through their depression or anxiety when you don’t exactly know what they are going through.  It is important to do your research, but to also understand that you aren’t going to have all the right answers. We are all human and it is crucial for us to acknowledge what we feel in order to help those around us.
  3. Don’t judge them or avoid their issues.If someone choose to be vulnerable and open up about their struggles with you, be kind and try to avoid all judgement.  It is important to understand your feelings, but do not carry extra weight that can further hurt them. Offer them and ear to listen and just sit with them.  Sometimes being present is the most powerful tool.
  4. Understand that this illness does not define them and give them a sense of hope.Make sure they know that they are not their mental illness, this is just a struggle that they have to work through.  Be sure to give them hope during this time. Not to be cliché, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel, the tunnel just consists of a lot of work, effort, patience, and more work.

The most important thing is to stand by their side and give them hope as they work toward bettering themselves.  It won’t be an easy ride, but riding along with someone that means the most, is much better than taking the drive all by yourself.