10 Things Your Friend With Depression Wants You To Know


Depression and Mental Health as a whole has only seemingly come to light over the last decade, and more and more people are able to publicly identify with their Mental Health diagnosis than ever before. A big thanks to this is the monumental growth of social media. I’ve seen more friends be able to speak their mind online. Bell Let’s Talk has everyone talking, and some of my friends who have hidden their diagnosis, don’t hide it anymore. It’s becoming more empowering to those suffering in this community that awareness and education are being spread.

However, it still is an illness. It still is an invisible illness.

You see someone with a knee brace and crutches, you automatically assume they hurt their knee.

You see someone with a high fever, coughing, and snot coming out of their nose, you automatically assume they have the flu.

You see someone running on the treadmill at the gym, headphones on, listening to music, and breaking a sweat. You automatically assume they are working out to build muscle or lose weight. What you don’t see is someone running through the pain of their depression, their anxiety, their schizophrenia, their bipolar disorder (etc.). 

The invisible disease. It’s harder to grasp because the general public can’t physically see it. And hey, seeing is believing, right?


Unfortunately, the symptoms are beyond a broken bone. It’s so very internal and the only way someone becomes aware that a person is suffering this way is if that person tells you.

Then how do you learn about this? How do you be there for your friends going through this if you don’t even know this about them?

I’m going to tell you now, this person will only tell you about their depression if they trust you. Mental health has been such a taboo subject. The public didn’t associate with the sub-diagnoses, they just called you crazy.

Friend A: Hey B, how was your day?

Friend B: Honestly, it wasn’t that great. I’ve been feeling depressed all day, didn’t want to get out of bed, and cried a lot.

Friend A: Yeah right, you look great! That’s a nice shirt you have on. You’re probably just having a bad day. I mean, I feel depressed all the time too! The other day I watched Marley and Me and was depressed for the rest of the night. But a few hours later I got over it and watched the hockey game.

Friend B: Oh… yeah. Maybe you’re right.

This is an all too familiar conversation happening to those associating with this illness, and it needs to change.

For me, being diagnosed with Major Depression, I’ll tell you that it’s an every day struggle. I don’t find it easy to tell people about it, and when I’m in a crisis, it becomes even harder to reach out. Over the years I’ve been able to do tons of research and meet new people along the way who make me feel like I’m not alone.(huge.) There’s been an immeasurable amount of discussion about what we wish others would know about Depression, and Mental Health as a whole.

So, here’s a simplified guide to what we wish you knew:

  1. It is not a made-up diagnosis.
    1. You wouldn’t know how many people think you are faking being depressed. They just think you’re sad and can get over it at the drop of a dime. It doesn’t work that way, and also, many health professionals can provide a proper diagnosis.
  2. When you don’t hear from us for a while, we aren’t ignoring you.
    1. Some days, depression really hits you like a punch in the stomach. It hurts. It’s hard to breath. It takes your will to do absolutely anything. It’s debilitating.  We still want to be your friend, but sometimes picking up the phone and typing that message, or making that phone call feels like the absolutely hardest thing at that time.
  3. When you don’t hear from us for a while, please reach out.
    1. Shutting ourselves in is such an easy alternative for us when we’re feeling the lows of our depression. A quick ‘hello’ to say you’re thinking of us, will feel like winning the lottery.
  4. Please learn about resources to help us. When we are in a crisis, we lose our ability to think straight.
    1. Know the signs of distress
      1. Withdrawal
      2. Feelings of worthlessness
      3. Loss of interest in things they once loved (eg. board games, shopping, etc)
      4. Fatigue
      5. Extreme weight loss/gain
      6. Insomnia or excessive sleeping
      7. Forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating
      8. Difficult short-term memory
      9. Thoughts of self harm or suicide
    2. Know the phone numbers
      1. Local crisis unit (they also usually have a mobile unit that comes to you)
      2. Suicide Helpline
      3. Our doctors office (Psych, therapist, family md, etc)
      4. 911
  5. Do some research. Even just basic reading online. There are so many great resources.
  6. Don’t tell us:
    1. To get over it
    2. To go outside because that’s what makes you feel better
    3. To stop feeling sorry for ourselves
    4. “Aren’t you always depressed?”
    5. That we are just having a bad day
    6. To calm down
    7. That our depression is tearing us apart
    8. That things could be worse – we know this, but it doesn’t matter at this moment
    9. The “logical” way you can solve whatever is distressing
      1. We often aren’t looking to problem solve at this moment, we just want comfort
        We actually do know logically what we should be doing, but it’s easier said than done
  7. Do tell us:
    1. That you are there for us
    2. That we aren’t alone
    3. That we are important
    4. That these feelings aren’t forever
    5. That it’s ok if we don’t want to talk
    6. That we aren’t going crazy, and it is ok to feel this way
    7. “I’m here for you no matter what.” (And actually mean it)
    8. That you don’t understand what we are feeling but you are there for us
    9. “How are you feeling? Please help me have a better understanding.”
    10. “Would you want to meet for coffee?”
      1. Sometimes a short meet-up can make all the difference
    11. “Is there something we could do together?” For example:
      1. Go grocery shopping
      2. Go for a walk
      3. Do some crafts
      4. Hang out without saying anything. (Read a book next to each other. Sometimes just the presence of someone helps)
    12. Sometimes we just need some encouragement
      1. Offer to give a ride to an appointment, support meeting, etc.
  8. Suicide is almost always in the back of our minds. 
    1. This does not mean we want to act on it, but often feel like there is no way out of shit feeling all the damn time.
  9. Praise the little accomplishments you might think are tiny, but to a depressed person, it is a big feat.
  10. We often feel like a burden to our friends and family, which will cause us to hide our feelings and concerns. Please help us or let us know that we aren’t a burden.

I know this might be a lot to take in, but trust me, it’s a lot for the person suffering depression as well. The list may be long, and I may have missed some things. But the best way to approach anything is with an open mind. Talk to your friend, ask how you can help. Be there for them, and be someone they can trust.