Three Rules for Dealing with Depression

Three Rules for Dealing with Co-worker, Friend, and Family
Member Depression

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to say around someone who is going through a tough time. Whether it be a death in the family or a serious health condition such as depression, it’s important to learn how to be a supportive friend or family member through the good times and bad.  If someone you know is struggling with depression, take heed of the following “rules” to help you reach out to co-worker, friend, or family member.

Rule #1

Avoid phrases such as “snap out of it, it will pass, lighten up,” etc.  Repeating cliché’s such as these to a depressed person will frustrate them further.  Sufferers of depression realize that others cannot possibly understand what they are experiencing.  It is very difficult for others to identify with what’s going in someone else’s mind, much less someone with depression.  The depressed need people to identify with what they are experiencing.

Rule #2

Do not attempt to take control of the depressed person’s life.  Be careful of misconstruing a  depressed person’s feelings of frustration, ineptness, or isolation as laziness or a bad mood.  Offer gentle support and kind words instead of attempting to reconstruct the person’s life.

Rule #3

If a time comes when it’s necessary to offer advice to a depressed person, offer it in the form of options.  For example, a personal reference such as a new doctor, medicine, or support group is helpful.  Avoid encouraging the depressed to participate in activities.  Social situations and sports can create difficulties since energy and fatigue are often prevalent during depression.  Invite the person to participate in light exercise with you or by themselves (such as a long walk) every once in awhile.  Studies have shown that exercise helps alleviate symptoms of depression in some people.  However, know that it should not replace drugs or counseling.

Your Employee Assistance Program, Magellan Health, has resources and experience to help you with more information. Visit or call 1-877-704-5696 for more information, referrals and support.

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About Rebecca Sampson

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