Published on December 15, 2022

5 Things to Avoid When Helping a Friend Cope With Depression

by Psych Times Staff

Millions of people worldwide suffer from depression at some point in their lives. While there is continued debate regarding the origins of such massive numbers of depressed people, the fact remains that you may know someone that is struggling. Dealing with a friend or loved one with depression can be intimidating if you are unsure how to handle the situation.

The most important thing to remember is that you are there to help, not to judge or create solutions. Your friend’s or family member’s depression has nothing to do with you. Your only job is to give your support and love. 

Whether you want to give help to a loved one or are interested in an online degree in mental health counseling, it’s important to know what to do and what not to do when dealing with depression. Let’s take a closer look at a few things to avoid when helping a loved one cope with their depression.

Avoid Medication Judgment

Medications can help treat depression, but not everyone benefits from them. Therapy or natural remedies are preferred by some people when treating depression due to its side effects. Be mindful that your friend is free to choose whether or not to take an antidepressant.

In the same way, if you don’t believe in medication, avoid the topic. People having trouble engaging fully in therapy need medicine to get them there so they can start taking steps toward recovery. The use of medication should be the choice of your loved one, and you need to support their decision without judgment or comment. 

Minimizing Their Experience

When your friend shares their depression with you, be supportive and do not diminish their feelings. There is more to depression than feeling down or sad. Although sadness usually passes quickly, depression can last for months or even years and impact relationships, mood, work, and many aspects of life.

Generally, comparing their troubles to someone else’s is not helpful. At this moment, your friend’s pain matters to them. Providing validation of those feelings is the most beneficial and supportive thing you can do. 

Quick Fixes

The condition of depression requires professional treatment. When you’ve never experienced depression, it can be challenging to understand how it feels. Remind them of what you appreciate about them, especially when they only talk negatively about themselves. 

Giving Advice

A depressive episode can make it hard to make lifestyle changes that can improve symptoms.

By offering advice, such as exercising and eating well, you can help. Your friend may only welcome good advice. One day, your friend may ask you what foods may relieve depression symptoms or how exercise can help. Listen empathically and refrain from offering advice until asked. 


No blame should be placed on you for your friend’s depression, just as there is no blame to be placed on them. Do not let anger, frustration, or lack of interest affect you if they lash out in rage. Your friend may need a break from you. While it’s okay to take a break if you’re feeling emotionally drained, it’s also important not to blame your friend or say things that may end up making them feel worse. 

Dealing with depression is demanding on both the sufferer and the people around them. If you have a friend or family member that is struggling with depression, consider these things that you should avoid if you want to be helpful.

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