Being Present for Depression

If you find yourself living with someone with depression, and you may at this particular time of the year, here is what I’ve found helpful (and not):

  • Be present and available in a quiet and gentle manner.
  • Don’t try to cheer up, crack jokes, or lift the mood. Show reverence for their current state of mind.
  • Don’t pretend that everything is normal and expect the depressed person to play along.
  • If the person opens up about their feelings, don’t change the subject. You don’t need to solve anything, just listen for as long as they need you too.
  • Try not to ask for instructions. If you think someone might be hungry, make an effort to serve them things you know they like–don’t insist on a detailed order.
  • This is not the time to share your personal challenges in an effort to relate. Find someone else if you need to talk.
  • The person probably knows what they need to do, they don’t need your prodding, or suggestions. If they’re sleeping, let them sleep.
  • Do not share complicated thoughts or plans in an effort to distract. Their brain is in survival mode and cannot process what you are saying.

People’s intentions are good. Love often comes with a strong desire to fix. Just do your best to read the room and know this will pass.

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