How to Help a Friend with Depression

Unfortunately, depression is a huge problem among teens these days, with about 20% of people experiencing depression before adulthood. In teens, the rate of depression and anxiety is five times higher than in the 1930s. One of your friends could be dealing with depression, which can sometimes lead to them taking their own life.

First, here are some symptoms:

  • They seem hopeless about the future.
  • They are unusually sad, angry, or irritated.
  • They seem low-energy or unmotivated.
  • They care less about or can’t concentrate on their interests or their friends.
  • They don’t seem to care as much as usual about their appearance.
  • They talk about being worthless or letting people down.

If your friend fits some of those, they may have depression. But what can you do if you suspect they may be dealing with it? 

  • Depression can be a hard thing to talk about, so make sure you are ready to listen. Encourage them to seek help or therapy. Let them know you’re there for them, and don’t sit down to talk about it if you only have a few minutes to spare.
  • Don’t take it personally if they don’t seem to want to hang out or if they act cold or angry towards you. Don’t act the same way to them, and make sure to give them some space.  
  • Learn about depression yourself. Do some research, and try to understand what they’re dealing with. Some important things to know are causes, symptoms, and common treatments.
  • Offer to help them. Depression can often come with a lack of motivation, so they might not feel like doing certain tasks, and everything can pile up. You could come over and help them clean their room, or just keep them company. 
  • Check in with them. Ask them how they’re feeling, and if they need your help. Even if it’s just a text, it could help them not feel as lonely to know someone cares.
  • Don’t act as if depression isn’t a problem or as if you can fix it yourself. Depression is a serious illness; you wouldn’t ask someone with a cold to just “get better”. You need to remember that treating it requires time.
  • If they start to show signs of being suicidal, it’s time to intervene. These signs can include giving away belongings, buying a weapon, showing dangerous behavior, talking about death, or feeling hopeless. You should talk to them alone, and ask them if they are contemplating suicide. Encourage them to talk to a therapist about it, and make sure to tell an adult. 

No one wants to lose someone important to them. Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the USA, and it’s preventable if you take the right steps. Make sure to take depression seriously, and to help your friends if they’re struggling.

– Eva, Young Adult Advisory Board Emperor

This post is part of a series “Mental Health: Teen to Teen,” written by teens in the library’s Young Adult Advisory Board.

The Young Adult Advisory Board is made up of teen volunteers who desire to help with and be a part of the library’s events and services aimed at middle and high school students. Interested in joining? Fill out an application here.