Depression already proved it exists so many times as it took the lives of people we never thought could and would end their lives. Robin Williams, Kate Spade, Chester Bennington, and Anthony Bourdain were among successful people who lived in wealth and fame. However, these were not the only things they had in common. They all suffered depression. Their passing shocked the whole world as many of us ask, “Why?”
Now we know that depression is something that can happen to anyone – wealthy and poor or young and old. Kurt Smith, Psy.D., LMFT, LPCC, AFC used to say, “Depression is different from passing sadness or temporary frustration with life’s issues. There are number of common signs for depression and they tend to be persistent.” That’s why it is not okay to ignore someone who says, “I’m depressed.” Yes, many of us may misunderstand being sad or problematic to being depressed, but if we genuinely care about a person, it wouldn’t matter if it’s depression or not. The fact that the person opened up to us is enough to make us responsible. We have the moral obligation to do something because someone is crying for help, may it be serious or not.
People who suffer depression do not normally say “I’m depressed” because they would hide it as much as possible. They would act strong and happy that it wouldn’t show that they are going through something tormenting. However, it doesn’t mean you have to ignore people who say they are depressed. It is not for you to say otherwise.
What You Should Do When Someone Tells You “I’m Depressed”:
You Should Be Present
You need to be there for someone who says, “I’m depressed.” If he asks to meet up, then you should go. Whether it is depression or not, he told you his feelings because he trusts and depends on you to lessen the weight he is carrying. Remember that we do not call just anyone to be there for us when we feel sad or down. We call someone we know would make us feel better. “Be supportive and let them know it is not that you think something is wrong with them, but that you want them to have some help with their current challenges. Sometimes, people who are depressed want help but don’t know how to get started.” Vara Saripalli, PsyD suggests.
You Should Listen
It doesn’t matter if you find his thinking shallow. No matter the nature, cause, or reason for his sadness or depression, he is still affected. That is enough reason for you to acknowledge his feelings. You don’t get to say it is nothing or immature even if it is. You are never in a position to invalidate someone else’s feelings. Doing so is a like saying you know better.
You Should Give Advice
It is not necessarily advice but a confirmation that someone acknowledges his feelings. If there’s one thing a sad or depressed person needs, it is the sense of not being alone. He needs to feel understood and validated because he may think that he is hopeless and helpless. The best advice you can give is to tell him to seek professional help.
“Depression is not a weakness of character, laziness, or a phase. Tough love, like telling someone to ‘buck up’ or ‘try harder,’ doesn’t work, and worsens the illness.” Deborah Serani, PsyD said. We should never ignore someone who says, “I am depressed.” These three words are a cry for help, may it be depression or not. Many lives have already perished without anyone having a clue, so if someone opened up saying he is sad, down, or depressed, it is our accountability to make him feel that there is hope.