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How To Support Someone With Depression And Anxiety

by Lisa Jones
Published: Last Updated on 6 comments
A plain white/grey background. There are two hands and it looks as though one is passing the other a black paper heart

Whilst not everyone has depression or anxiety it is probably quite accurate to assume that you will know someone with a mental health issue. So, I thought that I would write a post on how to support someone with depression and anxiety.

I know that everyone is different, but these are the things that I believe are the most helpful to help you support them.

Before We Get Into It

I think for you to understand what they might be going through, it may be worth reading two of my other posts as well; Where To Begin…. and Anxiety – How It Has Affected Me All Of My Life.

Mind has some extremely helpful guides that really help you understand mental health issues. If you want to support your loved one, I would definitely recommend checking out their website and they also offer downloadable workbooks and information on a whole range of different mental health subjects.

Do also check out my post How to look after you Mental Health for helpful hints and tips.

Here are my tips on How To Support Someone With Depression And Anxiety.

See the picture below?

One person stood on a clifftop on a foggy day.
Photo by Robert Wilcox on Unsplash

For me, that is what it was like having depression. Alone, unreachable and surrounded in a thick fog. You can almost see things around you but the only thing you can really see is yourself and the fog (or depression). You are unreachable because nobody understands what you’re going through. How would anybody be able to understand what’s going on in your head if you don’t understand it yourself?

Don’t Keep Asking If We Are Okay

I know that it is so tempting to ask because you genuinely want to make sure that they are okay, but honestly, this gets soo tiring. No, we are not okay, but it is not always possible to articulate what we are feeling. By asking if we are okay all of the time, we will then start saying yes, just so that you stop asking. We may even start hiding our bad days from you so that we don’t get asked this.


Don’t Bombard Us With Advice

Chances are, we have Googled the hell out of everything and know what we need to do. Or at least, I have. I know what I need to do to help lift my mood. Sometimes (okay, mostly!) we just want someone to listen to us and support us, not start giving advice. Just give us a hug, offer a cup of tea and depending on the mood, either general chit-chat or an ear is the best way to show your support.

Don’t Keep Asking Us Questions

What would you like to do? Do you want to go for a walk? What do you want for tea? Shall we go out? What do you want to watch on the telly?

These are all simple questions, right? (Apart from what do you want for tea, nobody has the answer to that one!) But when I was suffering terribly with my depression I couldn’t answer the most simple of questions. So being asked any of the above questions, which were meant with the best of intentions, would cause me to sink a bit deeper into my depression.

What I think is the best way to support someone when they are in this type of mood is to make the decision for them, but not in a bossy way. For example, they have no idea what they want for tea, how about you just make them their favourite meal, order a pizza or even just do some cheese on toast?

Rather than ask them what they want to watch, how about you just put their favourite film on? Want them to get out of the house, put your shoes and coat on, and ask them if they want to join you. I always found that when Daz already had his shoes and coat on, it made it harder to say no. I think by doing the above things, it just takes the pressure off a little bit.

Check In On Us

Someone holding a piece of paper with Phone a friend written on it with a picture of a phone
Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash

Had a friend that you’ve not heard from in a while? Maybe they’re going through something that you don’t know about. Rather than being annoyed that it’s you texting them first yet again, maybe just send them a message saying hi, and seeing how they are.

Keep Inviting Us Out

I went through a phase where I just didn’t want to go out at all, so my friends stopped inviting me out as much because I was always saying no. I’m asking you, please don’t stop inviting that friend out. Even if they say no each time, there might be that time that you are surprised. Even if we don’t want to go out, it’s still so nice to still be invited out, and know that your friends haven’t forgotten you.

Don’t Assume That We Are Having A Bad Day

We have depression, we’re not depression itself. Not every day or every moment is going to be bad. So if we are happy and smiling, don’t automatically assume that we are covering up our sadness or putting on a front. There are good days and bad days.

Please, For The Love Of God, Do Not Say The Following….

  • Cheer up
  • What have you got to be depressed/anxious about?
  • Snap out of it
  • You just need to think more positively
  • Try not to think about it
  • Keep your head up
  • Things could be worse/other people have it worse

I don’t think I really need to go into much detail with the above. They’re patronising and unhelpful. Just don’t say them. Thank you.

And Finally, Do Not Neglect Yourself

I think this is a very important one. I know that you want to support and look after your loved one, but how are you going to do that if you’ve run yourself into the ground? Make sure that you are still looking after yourself and that you have someone that you can talk to.

I hope you found this information on how to support someone with depression and anxiety. Did you find any of the above hints and tips helpful? Do you have any advice that you find helpful? Please let me know in the comments.

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How To Support Someone With Depression or Anxiety Pinterest pin

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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Amy 10/03/2020 - 11:20 am

This post is so helpful, and has come at the right time for me. One of my best friends has just started suffering with depression. When she first told me I actually said ‘But you’ve got a great life, what have you got to be depressed about’. I said it innocently, and luckily she didn’t take it the wrong way, but she could have done.

I’ll definitely be taking your advice with this and trying to support my friend in the best way that I can xx

The Procrastinating Mum 10/03/2020 - 1:48 pm

Thank you so much for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about your friend but I’m so glad that you found the post helpful ❤️

Jenny in Neverland 09/03/2020 - 5:38 pm

Oh good grief, YES! I can’t relate to the depression side of this but with my anxiety, I’ve heard FAR TOO MANY of these things! It’s difficult because most of the time, people mean well but it’s just so unhelpful and can often make you feel worse. The “just stop worrying” thing gets me every time, it’s almost laughable. The keep inviting them out point really hits home. After my anxiety started, all my friends just left me and for years I literally had no friends after that because I was so anxious I couldn’t do anything and they’d all given up on me xxx

The Procrastinating Mum 09/03/2020 - 6:36 pm

Ah yes, the stop worrying! Gah!!! And that’s the thing, I know people are trying to help but you’re right, it can make you feel even worse. I hope this post gives the friends and family members of mental health suffers the tools they need to help!

I am so sorry to hear about your friends. It’s so awful when they don’t even try to understand what you’re going through and make an effort ❤️❤️

Chris Rodger 03/11/2019 - 7:31 pm

It’s nice to read an article and feel slightly better understood in life. I really need to address the elephant in the room with my mental health amongst those closest to me. They know my diagnosis, but not the effects it has on me.

Lisa Jones 03/11/2019 - 9:27 pm

Hi Chris, thank you for your comment. Opening up is the hardest part, but once those around you understand the affect it is having on your everyday life, it really does help both you and your loved ones. Lisa xx


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