How you can help a friend who is struggling with depression
Depression can affect us all - whether it's our own personal experience or people around us - and it's important to know what to do if someone close to you is struggling with their mental health
In 2017, Radio 1 has been sharing advice on how to take care of your head with our series of My Mind & Me specials and give advice when it isn't with our series of My Mind & Me specials.
Life Hacks is part of that, a new weekly show where Radio 1 listeners speak to Katie Thistleton about the issues affecting their lives.
Following the recent Life Hacks show about the taboos surrounding antidepressants, here’s some practical advice on what you can do if one of your friends is struggling with depression.
Here’s what you can do to help
"Encourage them to look after themselves by exercising or getting out for a walk," says Dr Radha.
Just having the company of someone who cares can make a differenceDr Radha
"You could help them with practical chores like shopping or washing because sometimes these everyday things are so hard to do when you’re experiencing depression."
And often, just having the company of someone who cares can make a difference to someone, even if anything more is still a bit of a struggle.
"If they don’t feel like talking then just sitting with them and doing something simple like watching TV can help," adds Radha.
"Sending regular messages and calling them is really important. Reading about depression and finding out more can help you to understand a bit about what they may be experiencing."
It's important to tell your friends about what's happening in your head
Your support can make all the difference
You may wonder what impact you can have on someone who is unwell, but your support means more than you might realise.
Tell them that you are always there for them or if they need to chatDr Radha
"Depression causes feelings of isolation so being there for someone is really helpful. Listening and providing a space for them to talk is a great way to help," says Dr Radha.
Although one of your main goals should be to make sure the person affected is speaking to experts as well as supportive family or friends.
"Try to encourage them to seek professional help and support them to do this as soon as possible," Radha says.
"Tell them that you are always there for them or if they need to chat. Try not to criticise or judge how they feel, just to be there for them to feel heard."
But don’t forget to take care of yourself as well
Depression isn't contagious, but if you're spending time focusing on a friend with poor mental health, then your own should be a priority as well.
When you’re supporting someone experiencing depression, you can forget about your own self-careDr Radha
"You also need to look after yourself because sometimes when you’re supporting someone experiencing depression, you can forget about your own self-care," says Radha.
"Sometimes we feel so worried about someone we love, we risk our own mental wellbeing."
"Remember you can only do what you can and if you’re worried about someone or concerned you can’t cope or feel out of your depth then seek professional advice and support."
Katie opened up about her own experiences with depression
Depression can affect us all, even the people helping us get our own problems sorted. Life Hacks’ presenter Katie Thistleton recently admitted, on Radio 1, that she was on antidepressants for depression.
I was physically tired, physically dragged down to the ground all the timeKatie Thistleton
"It's not something I really mention to people in conversation," Katie told Radha, adding that even now, she doesn't always speak to all her friends about her mental health.
"It's not something I really tell my friends about unless they open up to me that they've been on anti-depressants."
But while everyone's experience with depression is different, what Katie went through will seem familiar to many.
"I got to the point where I was feeling so low where I needed a tablet to bring me back to level ground because I felt physically ill," she revealed.
"I was physically tired, physically dragged down to the ground all the time, struggled to make day to day conversation with people or smile at people."
Listen to Life Hacks, with Katie Thistleton and Dr Radha, on Cel Spellman's Sunday show on Radio 1
Life Hacks listeners revealed their experiences too
On Life Hacks Katie spoke to Mani, who some days struggled to make it out of bed.
If it helps you, you shouldn't be ashamed of itMani
"I was a bit apprehensive about going on antidepressants. All the stigma that's attached to it," he said.
"I felt ashamed. You can't be ashamed about these things. If it helps you, you shouldn't be ashamed of it."
She also chatted with Aaron, who found that exercise could help him deal with two deaths he was struggling to get over. She met Charlie, who rejected prescription drugs and sought alternative treatments and Harriet, who found that antidepressants made her depression even worse.
Listen to Life Hacks on Radio 1 at 4pm every Sunday