How to address and talk about depression

Talking about depression is essential for fostering understanding, providing support, and breaking down the stigma that often surrounds mental health issues. However, the ironic thing is that while talking about it openly is an acknowledged way to address it, actually bringing it up, talking about it and admitting that someone has it is the most difficult part. Whether you’re addressing your own struggles or supporting someone else, navigating these conversations with empathy, sensitivity, and knowledge can make a significant difference. Having helped and spoken to many people with different forms of depression, these are some of the findings from my experience in this area.

Understanding Depression

Before engaging in a conversation about depression, it’s important to understand what it is. Depression is a common but serious mood disorder that affects how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities. Symptoms can include persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, changes in appetite or weight, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, lack of energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, and thoughts of death or suicide. It can be a combination of these or, in fact, it could be none of them and it may manifest itself in a different way – each person is different and unique.

Talking About Your Own Depression

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: The first step in discussing your own depression is acknowledging it. This can be incredibly challenging, but it’s an important part of seeking help and starting your journey towards recovery.
  2. Choose the Right Person: Select someone you trust and feel comfortable with, whether it’s a friend, family member, or mental health professional. The person should be someone who can listen without judgment and offer support.
  3. Prepare for the Conversation: Think about what you want to say and how you want to express your feelings. It might be helpful to write down your thoughts beforehand. You don’t need to share everything all at once; start with what feels most urgent.
  4. Be Honest and Direct: Use clear and straightforward language to describe your feelings. For example, you might say, “I’ve been feeling really down lately and I think I might be dealing with depression.”
  5. Discuss What You Need: Whether it’s a listening ear, help with finding a therapist, or support in daily tasks, communicate what you need from the person you’re talking to.

Supporting Someone

  1. Listen Without Judgment: When someone confides in you about their depression, listen attentively and without judgment. Avoid offering unsolicited advice or trying to “fix” their feelings. Instead, provide a safe space for them to express themselves.
  2. Show Empathy and Understanding: Validate their feelings by acknowledging their pain. Simple comments like, “I’m sorry you’re going through this,” or “That sounds really tough,” can go a long way in showing support.
  3. Avoid Minimising Their Experience: Comments like “Just think positive,” or “It’s not that bad,” can be harmful. Depression is a serious condition that can’t be overcome through sheer willpower.
  4. Encourage Professional Help: Suggest seeking help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist. Offer to assist with finding resources or making appointments if they’re open to it.
  5. Be Patient: Recovery can take time. Be patient and continue to offer support even if you don’t see immediate improvements.

Discussing it in a Wider Context

  1. Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about depression and share this knowledge with others. Understanding the facts can help dispel myths and reduce stigma.
  2. Promote Open Dialogue: Encourage open conversations about mental health in your community, workplace, or social groups. This can create a more supportive environment for those dealing with depression.
  3. Use Person-First Language: When talking about it, use language that focuses on the person rather than defining them by their condition. For example, say “a person with depression” instead of “a depressed person.”
  4. Highlight Stories of Hope and Recovery: Share stories of individuals who have successfully managed their situation These narratives can provide hope and illustrate that recovery is possible.

Self-Care for Those Supporting Others

Supporting someone with depression can be emotionally taxing. It’s important to take care of your own mental health as well. Set boundaries, seek support from others, and ensure you’re practicing self-care to maintain your well-being.

Talking about depression is crucial for raising awareness, providing support, and encouraging those affected to seek help. Whether discussing your own experiences, supporting someone else, or promoting understanding in your community, approaching the conversation with empathy, sensitivity, and knowledge can make a profound difference. By fostering open dialogue and reducing stigma, we can create a more compassionate and supportive environment for everyone affected by depression. It’s important to recognise the point where the person you’re dealing with needs to talk to a professional. This is important not only for them but also for you to ensure that everyone involved in a conversation around depression is in the best place that they can be.

If you’re affected by depression or you know someone who is and you aren’t sure what steps to take, then you can take advantage of my free 15 minute consultation to see if it’s right for you.  For anyone looking to begin their therapy journey, it could be the start of something that is exactly what you’re looking for. If you would like to get in touch and find out more about my services, you can talk to me for details.

About The Author

An experienced therapist, Jille Tringham is the owner of Meditate Place and has years of personal and industry expertise. Her unique therapeutic approach can offer long term release and the ability to cope with emotional issues that cause daily setbacks and uncertainty in your life.  Jille Tringham has a number of years experience in human behaviour both in a commercial setting and as a therapist. She provides therapies from her Birmingham base to release you from your day to day challenges, as well as Life Coaching and Career Mentoring because she understands the physical and emotional strains that spill into all areas of life.