A Definitive Guide On How To Help Someone With Depression

How to help someone with depression.

Occasionally during events or in conversation, I’m asked how to help someone with depression. I’ve been on both sides of this dynamic throughout my life — as the “supporter” and “supported” — and wish to share what I understand are effective and compassionate approaches.

Helping a loved one through an emotional crisis is daunting. Equally, asking for support can feel impossible when in the eye of the storm. With that in mind, this guide is for everyone affected. Perhaps someone you know is struggling and you want to educate yourself. Perhaps you’re struggling and you’d like a resource to give to a loved one.

Either way, I’m hopeful the following framework increases understanding, sharpens communication, and offers clarity around this complex interpersonal relationship. I write from a place of deep appreciation for my support system. This article is dedicated to the words of encouragement, empathy, compassion and humour that has supported, and continues to support, my journey.


Your Mind Is Theatre, And You’re The Audience

Indulging in thought intereferes with the play.

Insights often arise during meditation. Sometimes they are truths vaguely understood, now gleaning with clarity. As they burst into consciousness, their simplicity doesn’t quite match the intense feeling of resonance.

On the spiritual path, simple truths return, with added vigour, over and over, each time their meaning more profound.

This morning’s meditation provided one of these moments. For a number of years, I’ve practiced mindfulness meditation. The anchor is attention on the breath and sensations in the body. From early on, I’ve practiced the Buddhist concept of the Middle Way — an equanimous approach to all phenomena, including thoughts, feelings, sensations.

Gently guiding the mind away from extremes of aversion and indulgence revolutionises the relationship with thoughts and emotions. It’s a practice to be repeated, over, and over, and over, and over. Each time, bringing attention back to the anchor. This is the basic premise of non-attachment.

Meditation, Spirituality

I Welcomed 2020 On Solo Retreat — It Renewed My Zest For Life

solo retreat
A process of reconnection during a solo retreat in Babelsberg, Germany.

My suitcase is full of food, books, my meditation cushion, a few clothes. I’m full of intent, anticipation, eagerness to return home. As the decade nears its end, for my journey inward, I’m travelling away — in the physical sense.

The wheels of the suitcase recently rolled across Bristol Airport post-Christmas visit. Now they transverse gravel, covered in dirt, a metaphor for the work awaiting my solo retreat in Babelsberg, Germany.

Their rhythmic hum is reminiscent of the sounds of aviation, low and thunderous. As I stop to check directions, the sounds stop too, and I’m confronted with silence. I’m five minutes from the modest hut where I’ll spend New Year’s alone.

I pause, breathe deeply, smile at the sky, purr at the silence. Gone is the percussion of sirens, shouts, smashes, the instruments of noise pollution of the busy city where I live. I’m sure my thoughts, without background noise, just got louder.

The silence is confrontational. Even playful.