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Here’s How You Can Help Someone Who Is Suffering From Depression

  • IWB Post
  •  June 9, 2018

TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, mental illness

A study conducted last year found that 65% youngsters in India show early signs of depression. Mental health has been stigmatised for so long that we’d have to keep talking about it openly and in a non-judgemental manner for years before it is not considered taboo.

But, until then, what happens to those who are suffering from mental illness? Within the last four days, the world has lost two famous people to suicide – Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. If you’ve looked at Twitter, it’s full of people wondering what causes someone with seemingly everything to end their life. Their families have also given out statements where they’re struggling to understand what was lacking in Kate and Anthony’s lives.

But this is what depression does. It isolates you from the world, from your success, heightens your imposter syndrome, and makes you feel really, truly alone even if you have tons of friends and family who genuinely care about you. We can never know what drove Kate and Anthony to suicide, but what we can do is be there for the people in our lives who might be dealing with some form of mental illness.

But the big question, is how would you know? We are surrounded by people who have anxiety and depression, but we might not know that because they don’t talk about it. And it’s even harder to see that if they have some form of high-functioning mental illness. But understand that no one owes us their diagnosis (and they might not even have one themselves), which is why it’s important to show empathy to each and every person you interact with. You don’t know their life. You have no idea what’s happening with them outside of the time they spend with you. So, be kind. Be nice. Access to mental health care is anyway reserved for those who live in cities and/or have money, so really be kind to every single person you meet.

You have to be proactive in wanting to help, because the onus of asking for it cannot be on the person dealing with depression. Unless you’ve been there, you can’t know the effort it takes for someone to do the simplest of tasks if they’re depressed, and asking for help, which means making yourself vulnerable, is a BIG task. So show up, be there, call, visit, ask questions (and not only when a famous person commits suicide).

But ask the right questions. Never say, what do you have to be depressed about? Because depression is an illness and anyone can suffer from it. Like Kate and Anthony, having immense money or fame does not guarantee that one won’t have anxiety/depression/another mental health condition. Sometimes it’s difficult for people to get professional help, so they turn to friends. And ignorant friends can often end up doing more harm.

So stay clear of offering inane advice like, ‘just be happy,’ or ‘go for a walk, you’ll feel better.’ Do you think this person hasn’t already tried it all? You don’t have to cheer the person up, you have to just be there for them. If you feel like, for some reason, you’re unable to do that, try and get professional help or go to another trusted friend or family member. Especially if they mention death or suicide and you’re worried that their life is in danger.

There are several reasons why someone might have depression. And the world we currently live in is definitely not helping. So take care of the people around you, and take care of yourself. If attending to a friend is somehow triggering your mental health issues, step back, ask someone else to check in on them.

Sometimes, even the internet might feel too much after a celebrity commits suicide because everyone seems to be talking about it but no one knows what to say. In that case, take a break from social media. Take a break from anything that does not help you.

If you are struggling with depression or thinking about suicide, call Aasra at 022 2754 6669.


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