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How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

There are several sources for somebody with bipolar disorder to learn to love themselves, from self-help books to the Bible to therapy and more. However, there are limited sources available for people who love somebody with bipolar depression. You could be a family member, a significant other or a friend and not know how to respond in love to somebody struggling with bipolar disorder. I know it is sometimes difficult for my family and my girlfriend to know what I need when I am going through an episode, and it is difficult for me to articulate what I need at the moment. Here are some tips for how to love somebody with Bipolar Depression.

1. Don’t take it personal.

It is not your fault they are depressed. There is nothing you did to cause this. Part of bipolar depression is having episodes of mania and depression. Sure, something you said could have triggered that, but playing the guessing and blame game is dangerous for both of you. If they are like me, they are not mad at you or hate you; they hate themselves at the moment. Let them vent to you about how much their life sucks or how much they hate themselves. They are not saying they don’t love you or appreciate you. They can only focus on the negatives at the moment. The last thing they need is you being frustrated or upset with them for something they can’t control. All you will do is close them off from talking to you.

2. Don’t try to fix them.

As much as you want to, it is not your job to fix them or how they are feeling. In fact, you probably can’t since bipolar depression is a chemical imbalance. They have heard all the advice in the world, whether spiritual or secular. They know what they need to do to get better, they just don’t have the motivation to do it. Just listen if they want to speak. I know for me, I hate when people try to give me advice because they do not know what I am experiencing right now. Be there for them instead. Let them experience their emotions. Let them know you are available for them and you love them. That is the biggest thing. Help them understand they are loved.

3. Remain patient.

You do not understand what they are going through. There is a good chance they do not know what they are going through as well. You may want them to talk about it, but they may honestly not know how to articulate the thoughts going through their head. There is so much spinning in their head and it just cannot come out in coherent sentences. Stay patient with them. If anything, just sit with them and assure them they are not alone in this valley.

4. Check in on them.

If you know somebody you love is experiencing depression, check in on them. Send them a simple text or give them a call, just to talk. Talking about anything can help distract them from what they are feeling and that can assuage some of the depression. Or, it can be a simple text saying you love them and are thinking of them. By doing this, you are demonstrating they have an impact in this world and that somebody is thinking of them. This counters some of the negative talk they are telling themselves.

5. Ask the tough questions.

There are some questions that are tough to both hear and ask, yet it is vital, out of your love for that person, that you ask the following questions: How can I help? Have you been taking your medication? Are you seeing a therapist? Are you having suicidal thoughts? Do you have a plan? Can I get you help?

Now these tips will not work for everybody or at all times, but they are good tools to have under your belt. Try them. The biggest takeaway is just to love them in the way they need, not the way you think is best.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

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Small steps. It is considered very important to let the grief process run its course before even expecting to be truly happy again. Guilt, extreme pain and sadness must very likely all be worked through before living again will be a true reality. Focusing on the important things. After the death of a spouse, for example, it might not be “important” to rush out and find a new one. Instead, some people focus in on themselves, what they can do to be happy again and even spend their time and energy on living and loving for their remaining family members. Redefining happiness. Sometimes this might be necessary. Whereas a person, job or relationship may have once been the definition of happiness, perhaps something new (not necessarily someone) can help ease the pain. It might not be feasible or even advised to try and “fill the void,” but finding new things to derive happiness from can be healthy. Whether it’s the personal fulfillment of accomplishing goals, spending more time with remaining family or learning to play an instrument, learning to live, love and be happy again might sometimes require an adjustment in outlook and thinking. Life after the loss of a job, a relationship or a loved one is not generally the easiest thing to cope with. Feelings of sadness, grief and a desire to not go on might all be present. Time, however, seems to be the great healer. While things will very likely never be the same, different can bring its own sense of happiness.

Know the warning signs

Learn the common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents.

Mental health conditions

Learn more about common mental health conditions that affect millions.

Find Your Local NAMI

Call the NAMI Helpline at

800-950-NAMI

Or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

One of the most important ways to be a good friend is to help your friends when you notice something is wrong. This includes helping them get the support they need and deserve if they are experiencing a mental health condition. This might seem like a big task, but it doesn’t have to be.

How Will I Know if Something’s Wrong?

Sometimes things don’t go our way or bad and unexpected things happen. It’s normal to get upset or sad during upsetting times, but if you feel that your friend isn’t responding normally it might mean that there’s something more serious going on. Here are some signs to look from your friend.

  • Withdrawing from social activities or appearing down for more than 2 weeks. This could mean crying regularly, feeling tired all the time or not wanting to hang out anymore.
  • Self-harming actions such as cutting or burning. Some people may begin to wear long sleeves or pants to cover up signs that they are doing this.
  • Threatening to kill his- or herself or making plans to do so. Although you may not know whether your friend is serious or not, it’s better to be safe and take things seriously.
  • Extreme out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors. Behaviors that can endanger his- or her own life as well as others, such as speeding excessively and not obeying traffic laws, might be a sign that something is wrong.
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, including intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities like hanging out with friends.
  • Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight. Pay attention if your friend isn’t eating much at lunch or going to the bathroom right after meals.
  • Severe mood swings. Life is stressful, but if there seem to be outbursts that go beyond how other people would often act, it might mean something more serious.
  • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol. Coming to class hung over, showing up to sporting events intoxicated or wanting to bring drugs or alcohol into daily activities is not normal.
  • Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits. Your friend might be sleeping much more or much less or get agitated more frequently.
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still.

What Can I Do?

Share Your Concerns

Share your observations with your friend. Focus on being nonjudgmental, compassionate and understanding. Use these “I” (instead of “you”) comments to get the conversation started.

  • I’ve noticed you’re [sleeping more, eating less, etc.]. Is everything okay?
  • I’ve noticed that you haven’t been acting like yourself lately. Is something going on?
  • It makes me afraid to hear you talking like this. Let’s talk to someone about it.

Reach Out to Someone You Trust

If a friend is in need, you don’t need to go at it alone. Involve others who can provide added support. Try to find someone who might be understanding of your friend’s situation or be able to help. Your friend may feel cornered if you start involving others, so make sure to talk to your friend first. However, if it’s an emergency, you should call 911 and get an authority figure. Here are some people you may consider reaching out to:

  • Friends and family
  • School teachers or counselors
  • Faith-based leaders
  • Coaches

Offer Support

Keep in mind that your friend might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through or simply may not want your help right now. You cannot force someone to get help, so just do your best to be there with your friend through their journey and be ready if and when they do finally reach out. It may be helpful to offer specific things that might help, such as:

  • How can I best support you right now? Is there something I can do or can we involve others who can help?
  • Can I help you find mental health services and supports? Can I help you make an appointment?
  • Can I help you with the stuff you need to get done until you’re feeling better?
  • Would you like me to go with you to a support group or a meeting? Do you need a ride to any of your appointments?

You can play an important role in helping a friend build a positive, social support network. Here are ways to do that:

  • Check-in regularly. Call or text your friend once or twice a week. Check in with them after their therapy appointments to see how things went. Let them know that you are there.
  • Include your friend in your plans. Even if your friend doesn’t always come, they will probably appreciate being included.
  • Learn more about mental health conditions. Find out more about what your friend is going through so you are better able to help in future situations.
  • Avoid using judgmental or dismissive language, such as “you’ll get over it,” “toughen up,” “snap out of it.” Your friend needs to hear that they are not alone and that they can get through this. Reassure them that everything will be okay and that you are there for them.

Being a friend means being there in easy times and more difficult times. If your friend is experiencing a mental health condition, this is a time when he or she needs you the most. And sometimes just talking about it might help your friend feel less alone and more understood. You can be the difference in helping a friend who needs support but is too afraid to seek help. Just a simple conversation can go a long way in helping your friend. You can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

Being kind to yourself helps you bounce back, live healthier, and stay on track.

Self-compassion is a way of relating to yourself that does not involve harshly judging or punishing yourself for every mistake you make, or every time someone does better than you. Research on self-compassion shows that it is associated with:

  • Less anxiety and depression.
  • More optimism.
  • Better recovery from stress.
  • Better adherence to healthy behavior changes, such as exercise or diet.

Kristin Neff, the pioneer of self-compassion research, describes it as follows:

“Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you’d show to a good friend. When faced with difficult life struggles, or confronting personal mistakes, failures, and inadequacies, self-compassion responds with kindness rather than harsh self-judgment, recognizing that imperfection is part of the shared human experience.” (Neff & Dahm, 2015)

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

The 3 Facets of Self-Compassion

Self-compassion has three separate but related aspects:

1. Mindfulness: Having an open, curious, non-judging attitude; not over-identifying with negative stories about the self.

2. Self-kindness: Treating yourself kindly, rather than harshly. Extending the same care and support to yourself that you would to a good friend or loved one.

3. Common humanity: Allowing yourself to be human, to make mistakes and learn from them. Knowing that as humans we are not perfect, nor should we be expected to act flawlessly.

In my clinical practice, I teach self-compassion to all of my clients, and I am always impressed by how much it can transform their relationship with themselves and promote healthier ways of living. Self-compassion is much more effective in changing behavior than trying to motivate yourself with shame and self-criticism. Shame and self-criticism lead to inner rebellion and giving up, while self-compassion gives you hope and helps you trust the process of change.

To become more self-compassionate yourself, try to follow these 7 steps:

1. Recognize that you are experiencing emotional distress or mental suffering.

Adopt a mindful attitude in which you deliberately pay attention to your inner experience so that you can notice when you are beginning to shift into a negative state. The minute you realize that you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself or feeling anxiety in your body, stop and say to yourself, “This is a difficult moment,” or, “I’m feeling distress in my mind and body.”

2. Accept that the feeling is there.

Make a conscious decision to sit with whatever negative feeling is there and try to accept it—because it’s there anyway—rather than pushing it away. If it’s a negative thought, look for the underlying emotion (anxiety, sadness, or anger), or scan your body to see where you feel tension or discomfort. You may feel it in your chest, belly, shoulders, throat, face, jaw, or other areas.

3. Imagine what you might feel if you saw a loved one experiencing this feeling.

In your mind’s eye, imagine your loved one being scared or sad or feeling bad about themselves. Then think about what you might feel. Perhaps you would feel the urge to help or comfort them. Try to direct this compassionate mindset toward yourself. If you notice any resistance or thoughts of “I don’t deserve compassion,” acknowledge them, and try to direct compassion to yourself anyway. You may want to ask yourself why you think others deserve compassion but not you.

4. Challenge your negative story about yourself.

If you can’t feel compassion for yourself because you feel undeserving or “bad,” try to think about this as an old story. Notice the old story of why you are bad. Now find a way to challenge this interpretation. If you acted in an unhealthy or irresponsible way, ask yourself if there were circumstances that influenced your behavior. Perhaps you experienced past trauma, or you were caught in a stressful situation. Now make a commitment to try to learn from the experience, rather than beat yourself up over it. Other ways to challenge the story are to ask yourself if you’re seeing things in black or white, if you’re being too judgmental, or if you’re seeing the situation from only one perspective. Are there other, kinder ways to view the situation? Are you expecting yourself to be perfect, rather than allowing yourself to be human?

5. Think about how everybody messes up sometimes.

It’s tempting to think that you are uniquely messed up, while everyone else is a paragon of virtue. In fact, even the most successful people make serious mistakes. Think about all the mistakes politicians make. But making a mistake doesn’t undo all of your accomplishments and successes. Neff cites “common humanity” as an aspect of self-compassion: Humans are learning, developing beings rather than finished products. We’re all works in progress.

6. Decide what it would take to forgive yourself.

If your behavior hurt you or another person, ask yourself what it would take to forgive yourself. Think about whether you want to apologize and make amends to the person you hurt. If you hurt yourself through addictive behavior, avoidance, ruining relationships, or otherwise behaving unwisely, make a coping plan for the next time you are in a similar situation so that you can begin to act differently.

7. Use self-talk to encourage yourself.

You may say something like, “It doesn’t help to beat yourself up,” or, “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes.” You may want to acknowledge yourself for trying, even if you weren’t successful. You may tell yourself to focus on the positive aspects of what you did as well as the negative ones, or that behavior change is a process, and you need to keep trying.

8. Be a life coach to yourself.

Rather than punishing yourself with negative thoughts, gently guide yourself in a positive direction. You may ask yourself what led to the destructive behavior, whether it’s really what you want to be doing, and what the consequences are. Tell yourself that you have other choices, and it’s never too late to change. Then think about a concrete step you can take right away to move in a more positive direction or get up and try again. If someone else was mean and you let them get away with it, think about how you can set a limit or boundary to stop this from happening again.

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

Being in a relationship with someone suffering from depression or anxiety can be challenging. You wish you could turn a switch that would magically make her feel happy again, but in reality, healing takes patience and compassion.

But there’s hope for joy, peace and relief. Here are 11 ways to make your relationship function better by communicating openly and understanding that her illnesses do not define her:

1. Only play the role of the partner.

You’re not the doctor, therapist or parent. There will be many times when she’ll want to cry or vent, and the best thing you can do is be there to comfort her. Let her know everything is going to be okay.

2. Support her healing strategies.

Ask her how her treatment is going and let her share what she’s discovered so far in her healing process. Always know that there are life coaches, therapists, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists she can lean on who are trained in effectively treating mental illnesses.

3. Turn the conversation to something optimistic.

When she talks about what’s wrong, ask her if she sees any lessons. When she talks about what doesn’t feel good, ask her what does feel good. When she talks about suffering, ask her what she can do to feel comfort again. Give her seeds of hope.

4. Let her know how you love her.

If she’s dealing with depression and anxiety, she’s most likely also trying to strengthen her self-awareness and self-esteem. Although you can’t put these strengths in her, you can help her feel reassured that you’re there for her. Share with her what you love about her talents, humor and beauty. You can never say “I love you” too often.

5. Understand her triggers and avoid setting them off.

She may get upset about things that don’t bother you, like your mother’s politics or where you put your shoes at the end of the day. Pay attention to her body language—when she tenses up and seems upset—and notice when you push her buttons.

6. Be gentle yet honest about how you’re feeling.

Share your thoughts, fears, frustrations, ideas, solutions, dreams and revelations. Discuss what makes you happy in the relationship, and fantasize about things you see the two of you doing together. Talk about what excites you about in the relationship and the methods to finding its full potential.

7. Create direct and clear boundaries between yourself and other women.

What you may perceive as unfounded jealousy is actually fear. It is fear that her illnesses will scare you away or that you’ll leave her for another woman who doesn’t have the same problems. Only welcome women into your life who honor and respect your relationship and love your girlfriend/wife as much as you do. Build and maintain bridges of trust.

8. Surround yourself with people who care about you and your girlfriend/wife.

She’ll need to be surrounded by those who love her and hold a supportive and healing space for her. Someone is not part of your positive community if he or she does not show compassion or does not show the respect she deserves for her courage. Keep the tribe and the drama small.

9. Have productive activities that only the two of you share.

Make art together. Go on hikes together. Take an impulsive weekend holiday together to the beach to make sandcastles. Visit a record store or go to a show together. Drive around and point out houses or gardens that you both like. Establish unique bonding time.

10. Give her space to grow and heal on her own.

Be enthusiastic when she tells you about the cooking class she wants to register for. Encourage her to try a restorative yoga class or join the meditation group. Let her have her own set of hobbies and activities that bring her peace of mind, confidence and self-awareness.

11. Make love to her.

The power of affection and sexuality can express love, give comfort and uplift moods like nothing else. It will make her feel beautiful and desired. It will be a satisfying way to reconnect on spiritual, emotional and physical levels. Be affectionate and watch how even in the darkest of times, the deepest sensation of calming hope is available to both of you.

Recovering from depression and anxiety during my own relationship has been challenging, but it also helped us strengthen our companionship. We ask each other questions when we need clarity and we work to respond to each other with compassion. Ultimately, I learned that effective partnership grows from honoring each other’s needs and treating your partner like the fragile and precious person you fell in love with.

Being kind to yourself helps you bounce back, live healthier, and stay on track.

Self-compassion is a way of relating to yourself that does not involve harshly judging or punishing yourself for every mistake you make, or every time someone does better than you. Research on self-compassion shows that it is associated with:

  • Less anxiety and depression.
  • More optimism.
  • Better recovery from stress.
  • Better adherence to healthy behavior changes, such as exercise or diet.

Kristin Neff, the pioneer of self-compassion research, describes it as follows:

“Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you’d show to a good friend. When faced with difficult life struggles, or confronting personal mistakes, failures, and inadequacies, self-compassion responds with kindness rather than harsh self-judgment, recognizing that imperfection is part of the shared human experience.” (Neff & Dahm, 2015)

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

The 3 Facets of Self-Compassion

Self-compassion has three separate but related aspects:

1. Mindfulness: Having an open, curious, non-judging attitude; not over-identifying with negative stories about the self.

2. Self-kindness: Treating yourself kindly, rather than harshly. Extending the same care and support to yourself that you would to a good friend or loved one.

3. Common humanity: Allowing yourself to be human, to make mistakes and learn from them. Knowing that as humans we are not perfect, nor should we be expected to act flawlessly.

In my clinical practice, I teach self-compassion to all of my clients, and I am always impressed by how much it can transform their relationship with themselves and promote healthier ways of living. Self-compassion is much more effective in changing behavior than trying to motivate yourself with shame and self-criticism. Shame and self-criticism lead to inner rebellion and giving up, while self-compassion gives you hope and helps you trust the process of change.

To become more self-compassionate yourself, try to follow these 7 steps:

1. Recognize that you are experiencing emotional distress or mental suffering.

Adopt a mindful attitude in which you deliberately pay attention to your inner experience so that you can notice when you are beginning to shift into a negative state. The minute you realize that you are thinking negative thoughts about yourself or feeling anxiety in your body, stop and say to yourself, “This is a difficult moment,” or, “I’m feeling distress in my mind and body.”

2. Accept that the feeling is there.

Make a conscious decision to sit with whatever negative feeling is there and try to accept it—because it’s there anyway—rather than pushing it away. If it’s a negative thought, look for the underlying emotion (anxiety, sadness, or anger), or scan your body to see where you feel tension or discomfort. You may feel it in your chest, belly, shoulders, throat, face, jaw, or other areas.

3. Imagine what you might feel if you saw a loved one experiencing this feeling.

In your mind’s eye, imagine your loved one being scared or sad or feeling bad about themselves. Then think about what you might feel. Perhaps you would feel the urge to help or comfort them. Try to direct this compassionate mindset toward yourself. If you notice any resistance or thoughts of “I don’t deserve compassion,” acknowledge them, and try to direct compassion to yourself anyway. You may want to ask yourself why you think others deserve compassion but not you.

4. Challenge your negative story about yourself.

If you can’t feel compassion for yourself because you feel undeserving or “bad,” try to think about this as an old story. Notice the old story of why you are bad. Now find a way to challenge this interpretation. If you acted in an unhealthy or irresponsible way, ask yourself if there were circumstances that influenced your behavior. Perhaps you experienced past trauma, or you were caught in a stressful situation. Now make a commitment to try to learn from the experience, rather than beat yourself up over it. Other ways to challenge the story are to ask yourself if you’re seeing things in black or white, if you’re being too judgmental, or if you’re seeing the situation from only one perspective. Are there other, kinder ways to view the situation? Are you expecting yourself to be perfect, rather than allowing yourself to be human?

5. Think about how everybody messes up sometimes.

It’s tempting to think that you are uniquely messed up, while everyone else is a paragon of virtue. In fact, even the most successful people make serious mistakes. Think about all the mistakes politicians make. But making a mistake doesn’t undo all of your accomplishments and successes. Neff cites “common humanity” as an aspect of self-compassion: Humans are learning, developing beings rather than finished products. We’re all works in progress.

6. Decide what it would take to forgive yourself.

If your behavior hurt you or another person, ask yourself what it would take to forgive yourself. Think about whether you want to apologize and make amends to the person you hurt. If you hurt yourself through addictive behavior, avoidance, ruining relationships, or otherwise behaving unwisely, make a coping plan for the next time you are in a similar situation so that you can begin to act differently.

7. Use self-talk to encourage yourself.

You may say something like, “It doesn’t help to beat yourself up,” or, “Everybody makes mistakes sometimes.” You may want to acknowledge yourself for trying, even if you weren’t successful. You may tell yourself to focus on the positive aspects of what you did as well as the negative ones, or that behavior change is a process, and you need to keep trying.

8. Be a life coach to yourself.

Rather than punishing yourself with negative thoughts, gently guide yourself in a positive direction. You may ask yourself what led to the destructive behavior, whether it’s really what you want to be doing, and what the consequences are. Tell yourself that you have other choices, and it’s never too late to change. Then think about a concrete step you can take right away to move in a more positive direction or get up and try again. If someone else was mean and you let them get away with it, think about how you can set a limit or boundary to stop this from happening again.

We’re social, empathic beings by nature. When someone we love is living with depression, it’s natural to want to reach out and help them.

We hate to see them struggle and we know how it feels to have our world fall apart, in one way or another. But because depression is so complex, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start.

It can get even more tricky when someone we care about is showing signs of serious distress, and we’re not sure how to navigate a crisis. We may be afraid to do something wrong or somehow make things even worse.

Take heart. You are not alone, and there are many ways you can help. It’s possible not only to support someone during a difficult time, but to make sure you’re taking care of yourself, too.

This article will explain common symptoms of depression, warning signs, and how to be there for someone dealing with depression, all while keeping your own mental health in check.

At least 4.7% of U.S. adults live with depression, according to 2019 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And, according to a 2021 Mental Health America report, the number of people seeking mental health support skyrocketed amid the global pandemic.

It’s important to know upfront that depression is a unique experience for each individual. Here are some symptoms of depression you might recognize in your loved one:

  • feeling sadness or low spirits
  • looking fatigued or appearing “shut down”
  • sleeping more, or less, than normal
  • having fluctuations in appetite
  • experiencing weight fluctuations
  • expressing guilt, shame, helplessness, or hopelessness
  • being pessimistic about the future
  • skipping activities or quality time together
  • being more reclusive or less communicative
  • having difficulty focusing in conversation or seeming distracted
  • having trouble remembering things
  • being quicker to anger or more irritable than usual
  • losing interest in hobbies or activities
  • discussing death or self-harm
  • experiencing physical symptoms, like headaches or an upset stomach

As you can see, there’s a lot going on there. And there’s no one cause of depression — it could stem from a combination of many factors, like genetic predisposition, personal history, trauma, substance use, major life changes, work stress, family problems, or even an underlying health concern.

In the next sections, we’ll take a look at some key ways you can support a loved one who’s dealing with depression.

Depression can be an isolating experience for some. One of the best things you can do is to let someone know they’re not alone and be open to what they want to share.

It doesn’t have to be complicated, either. Simply listen to what they’re going through. Do not try to fix their problems, give unsolicited advice, or judge their feelings. It’s not something they can just “get over” or “snap out of.” If they could, they would’ve done it already.

If you can relate, share your own experience and what you learned from it. Many people just want to be understood and know that someone cares.

You can also show them this list of 19 quotes about depression, so they know they’re not alone.

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

If someone you love has depression, it’s normal to feel at a loss, helpless, or worried about saying the wrong thing. If you’re reading this, though, you’re already doing something right. Looking for answers and learning about depression is an act of care and love in itself.

With around 16 million American adults each year experiencing at least one episode of major depression, there’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to helping someone who has this mental health condition. Saying the right thing is obviously going to depend on a lot of different factors (like your relationship with the person, their general personality, the current situation, etc.).

The thing is, saying something is often better than saying nothing. If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, here are a few suggestions that come straight from mental health experts. Of course, you don’t need to say these verbatim, but the sentiment of each one is typically a good place to start.

When a friend or family member tells you they’re dealing with depression, your first instinct may be to point out all the good things in their life.

Unfortunately, depression doesn’t need a good reason to impact someone. “All kinds of people—rich and poor, married and single, and men and women from all walks of life—are vulnerable to feelings of depression,” New York-based clinical psychologist Allison Ross, Ph.D, M.P.H., tells SELF. Shining a light on what you see as the positives in their life won’t help, nor will using what you view as a logical explanation of why they shouldn’t feel depressed, Ross says.

What’s more, saying things like, “You have so much to be grateful for, how can you be sad?” will probably only shame them for feeling that way, Lekeisha Sumner, Ph.D, clinical health psychologist at UCLA, tells SELF.

Roxanne C., 24, tells SELF that when friends make statements like, “You have no reason to be unhappy,” it exacerbates the self-blame already involved in her depression. “Pointing out everything I have that other people don’t makes me feel invalidated,” Roxanne says, because her depression is not based on her circumstances. “I already feel guilty enough for having every opportunity and still feeling this way.”

If someone says they have depression, don’t try to argue. The best thing you can do is simply accept what they are saying and be frank about how much depression sucks.

Another common (and understandable) impulse is to tell the person you understand what they’re going through, but sometimes this isn’t helpful, Emanuel Maidenberg, Ph.D., clinical professor of psychiatry and the director of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Clinic at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, tells SELF.

Let’s be honest: You don’t really know what’s going through any person’s head, even if you also experience depression (more on that in just a moment). Pretending that you do can minimize what your friend is going through. Instead of cultivating empathy, it can actually make them feel more misunderstood and isolated, which of course isn’t your goal.

A better idea? Remind the person that even (or especially) when you don’t totally get it, you’re still 100 percent there for them. This is something Roxanne really appreciates hearing when she feels depressed, she says.

The previous item on this list doesn’t mean you have to clam up about your own mental health. If you’ve dealt with depression in the past or present, you should feel free to let your loved one know. “This information can help a person going through a difficult time feel less alone,” Ross says. “Knowing others have gone through something similar can also help them feel less ashamed or blaming towards themselves for how they’re feeling.”

Again, though, there is a fine line between empathy and presuming you understand every single aspect of what your friend is going through. Avoid statements like, “I know exactly how you feel right now. I’ve felt depressed, too,” clinical psychologist Rudy Nydegger, Ph.D, chief of psychology at Ellis Hospital and professor at Union College, tells SELF.

Instead, you can say you feel for them and, based on what they’re saying, it sounds like you’ve had a similar experience with depression. If they do want to hear more about it, they’ll ask you (and probably appreciate your openness). Otherwise, you can move the conversation forward with some of the other options on this list.

If your friend or relative is experiencing depression and is not in treatment, they would likely benefit from therapy. “Friends and family cannot fulfill the responsibility of a professional,” Nydegger says. “Therapy is not just about talking and getting it off your chest. It is complex and requires a lot of training and experience.”

So, while it’s helpful for you to bring up therapy as a prospect if they aren’t going, that doesn’t mean you should say things like, “You should really see someone” or “You need professional help,” which can be patronizing.

Instead, make the suggestion “gently and tentatively,” Ross says. Phrase it as an open-ended question, not a demand, by asking what they think about seeing a mental health professional. Maybe they’ll shut the conversation down, in which case you can revisit it later. Or maybe they’re waffling on the idea and could use the extra support and destigmatization. “You may need to encourage them to seek professional treatment,” Sumner says. “For most people, treatment is effective,” Sumner says. But they also need to be open to it.

The catch is that, even if your loved one is interested in therapy, it can be incredibly hard to find a therapist who takes their insurance if they have it, to find someone who’s affordable if they don’t, to find someone who’s taking new clients at this time. the list goes on. If you have the bandwidth, offering to help your friend search can be a kind show of love and support.

After that, though, give the person the chance to take action. “Encourage the prospective patient to make the call themselves,” Nydegger says. “[The person] should take the responsibility for their care and make the arrangements.”

Socializing, exercising, and simply getting out of the house can be beneficial for people with depression, depending on their situation. But they likely know this already, so simply saying something like, “Why don’t you go for a run?” isn’t likely to be helpful.

Instead, center these kinds of suggestions around the opportunity to do something together, Nydegger says, like asking if they’d like to join you for a walk. “You drop it if they say no—don’t lecture,” Nydegger says. Following up with something like, “You know sunshine and exercise are good for you!” is exactly what they don’t need to hear, and it won’t help. “It just shows that you don’t understand how badly the person feels, and it often creates resistance,” Nydegger says.

Not everyone who experiences depression also experiences suicidal thoughts, so this may not be relevant in all situations. However, if someone close to you has opened up about their mental health situation to you, or if you’ve noticed drastic changes in their mood or behavior, it may be appropriate to broach this subject.

I’m guessing that if you’re reading this, you’ve struggled or are struggling with anxiety or depression and you’re looking for hope. Maybe you feel like you’ve tried everything and you just can’t seem to beat it. You’re hoping to find a prayer for anxiety that will fix it all and make it go away. Poof! That nagging, aching, painful feeling inside is now gone and you can go back to normal. Maybe you feel lost, afraid and alone. I bet you also sometimes feel a little guilty that you’re supposed to “ be anxious for nothing ” as a Christian and you can’t seem to get it right. That depresses you, and now you feel like quitting and pulling away from everyone. That was me. I was there, and I was there big time.

My marriage was in shambles. I was shouldering all of the responsibility of raising three kids, two of them teenagers (Lord, help me!) all on my own. Working, cooking, cleaning, carpooling, fixing, financing, supporting, loving, providing—it was all on me. My anxiety was through the roof, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I was trying everything I could think of: counseling, meditation, medication, music, exercise, reciting Scriptures, you name it! Nothing seemed to take it away. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely helping to do these things. I started to see the world in color again. I learned to use the tools I needed to get myself centered again. But I just couldn’t make it past a certain point. I was still struggling. Looking back, one thing I realize I wasn’t trying was “not trying.” Let me explain.

If you search Scripture, you will find a plethora of verses on the topic of worry to pore over and pick apart. I know because I did it. I was looking for a magic formula to help me conquer it once and for all. In my search, I found something unexpected. You have to pay attention to see it, but in these verses there are implicit instructions from our Father to do nothing. What? Nothing? Yes, nothing. In Matthew 11:28 NIV , Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He is doing the work here, not us. We just have to come to Him. In John 14:27 NIV , He says, “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you …” Are you sensing a theme? He is giving us peace. He is giving us rest. We do nothing. Again in Matthew 6:25-34 NIV , this famous passage tells us not to worry, for God even “clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire,” so how much more will He take care of us? Here we are told to “seek first his kingdom … and all these things will be given” to us. That’s right—did you catch that? Given!

It wasn’t until I learned to do nothing that I finally found peace.

God is a giver. He has the answers, and He has our back. Some things we just can’t do ourselves, but that is exactly how He designed it. All we have to do is trust Him and come to Him. He does the rest! And you know, all of those things I worried about worked out, one way or another. My self-imposed worry was causing horrible physical symptoms and depression . It wasn’t until I took a breath, rested, truly came to Jesus, got quiet, let go of all the details, told God that I trusted Him completely—and then learned to do nothing—that I finally found peace. My prayers became less about my situation and more about my trust in Him.

If you need to do the same, I highly encourage you to rest. Find a quiet place, away from everyone and everything, and pray this prayer for anxiety and depression. You may want to keep this prayer in your phone or on your mirror to help you remember to give it all to God and wait in expectation. I can promise you this: He will give you rest. He will give you peace. And His answers are infinitely better than anything you could ever come up with. You can trust Him.

I come to You today to ask for help. You are my everything. Lord, I need rest. I give You my worry. Take it, Lord. I accept Your peace, love, and understanding. Help me to turn to You and not to myself. Help me to stop doing and start trusting. Help me to wait on Your answers, because I know that they are good. Give me wisdom, hope, and peace. Thank you, Lord, for Your patience and grace. I love You, and I know You love me so much more than I could ever imagine.