Giving moral support to anyone with depression and anxiety
Depression is a global epidemic – worldwide, over 300 million adults and children live with depression. If someone you know suffers from depression, they often will:
- appear more pessimistic than usual
- talk about feeling worthless and empty
- look sad and sometimes tearful
- get upset easily
- lack motivation and have little energy
- care less about their interests
- eat more or less than usual
- and sometimes talk about death or suicide
A key ingredient required in the recovery process is moral support. Giving moral support to a person suffering from anxiety or depression helps to provide them with that little push urgently needed to get out of that dark and gloomy place. Knowing how to give moral support is just as important as giving moral support.
When giving moral support, it’s important you listen; let them know you are them for them. To begin, you can start the conversation by sharing your concerns and asking questions like: “it seems like you’ve been having a hard time lately. What’s on your mind?” This question is simple, but at the same time, opens the door for you and the person to have a heart-to-heart and meaningful conversation. Regardless of their reply, keep in mind that they may or may not want your advice, but still give them a listening ear and let them know you care and support them in their trying times. Ensure:
- You ask questions to get more information, at the same time, try not to pry. It’s better you have an understanding of what they feel and are going through than coming to your own conclusion.
- Validate their feelings. You could say something like: “that sounds difficult. I’m really sorry to hear that.”
- Show empathy and interest in your body language.
Beyond giving moral support, you could help them find support. Why is this necessary? Your friend may not be aware that they are dealing with depression, and in some cases, they may be aware but have no idea how to reach out for support. In this scenario, you could provide moral support by letting them know you care about them and also try and see if they would be interested in counseling or therapy. If they are interested in either, you can offer to help them review potential therapists. By encouraging and supporting them to seek out help or professional support, you are directly helping them get better.
It’s important you learn more about depression before you proceed to help a friend, family, or colleague in need. Doing this will help you gain a deeper understanding of how they feel, and will come in handy when you talk with them, and they tell you their specific symptoms and worries. Getting familiar with the general symptoms will help you have a more in-depth conversation.
People with depression or anxiety sometimes have a hard time reaching out to friends or keeping up with invitations, and this can cause guilt. This inherently leads to isolation and worsens depression. You can help your friend feel less alone by offering or extending invitations to activities. It doesn’t matter if they don’t show, but keep on with the invites, and tell them you understand if they don’t show up. Doing this may not rid them of depression, but it will help ease the sense of guilt and isolation they feel. On a final note, tell them you are happy to see them whenever they feel like it.
You may not be physically available to offer your support, but ensure you stay in touch. You can check in regularly via text, phone call, or, better still, a quick visit. When you send text messages like “I’ve been thinking about you, I just want to tell you that you are strong and special. ”
Depression improves with treatment, but it can be a slow process. You may get tired offering moral support, but it’s at this point you should have some patience; they need your support now more than ever. So, continue to be a positive and supportive influence in their life, this will make a huge difference in their lives. Giving moral support to anyone with depression is something we all should know about.