How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

There are several sources for somebody with bipolar disorder to learn to love themselves, from self-help books to the Bible to therapy and more. However, there are limited sources available for people who love somebody with bipolar depression. You could be a family member, a significant other or a friend and not know how to respond in love to somebody struggling with bipolar disorder. I know it is sometimes difficult for my family and my girlfriend to know what I need when I am going through an episode, and it is difficult for me to articulate what I need at the moment. Here are some tips for how to love somebody with Bipolar Depression.

1. Don’t take it personal.

It is not your fault they are depressed. There is nothing you did to cause this. Part of bipolar depression is having episodes of mania and depression. Sure, something you said could have triggered that, but playing the guessing and blame game is dangerous for both of you. If they are like me, they are not mad at you or hate you; they hate themselves at the moment. Let them vent to you about how much their life sucks or how much they hate themselves. They are not saying they don’t love you or appreciate you. They can only focus on the negatives at the moment. The last thing they need is you being frustrated or upset with them for something they can’t control. All you will do is close them off from talking to you.

2. Don’t try to fix them.

As much as you want to, it is not your job to fix them or how they are feeling. In fact, you probably can’t since bipolar depression is a chemical imbalance. They have heard all the advice in the world, whether spiritual or secular. They know what they need to do to get better, they just don’t have the motivation to do it. Just listen if they want to speak. I know for me, I hate when people try to give me advice because they do not know what I am experiencing right now. Be there for them instead. Let them experience their emotions. Let them know you are available for them and you love them. That is the biggest thing. Help them understand they are loved.

3. Remain patient.

You do not understand what they are going through. There is a good chance they do not know what they are going through as well. You may want them to talk about it, but they may honestly not know how to articulate the thoughts going through their head. There is so much spinning in their head and it just cannot come out in coherent sentences. Stay patient with them. If anything, just sit with them and assure them they are not alone in this valley.

4. Check in on them.

If you know somebody you love is experiencing depression, check in on them. Send them a simple text or give them a call, just to talk. Talking about anything can help distract them from what they are feeling and that can assuage some of the depression. Or, it can be a simple text saying you love them and are thinking of them. By doing this, you are demonstrating they have an impact in this world and that somebody is thinking of them. This counters some of the negative talk they are telling themselves.

5. Ask the tough questions.

There are some questions that are tough to both hear and ask, yet it is vital, out of your love for that person, that you ask the following questions: How can I help? Have you been taking your medication? Are you seeing a therapist? Are you having suicidal thoughts? Do you have a plan? Can I get you help?

Now these tips will not work for everybody or at all times, but they are good tools to have under your belt. Try them. The biggest takeaway is just to love them in the way they need, not the way you think is best.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

The Mighty iPhone App is here!

Exchanging ideas for supporting your loved ones with our community is made easier with our app. Download it here .

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

Being in a relationship with someone suffering from depression or anxiety can be challenging. You wish you could turn a switch that would magically make her feel happy again, but in reality, healing takes patience and compassion.

But there’s hope for joy, peace and relief. Here are 11 ways to make your relationship function better by communicating openly and understanding that her illnesses do not define her:

1. Only play the role of the partner.

You’re not the doctor, therapist or parent. There will be many times when she’ll want to cry or vent, and the best thing you can do is be there to comfort her. Let her know everything is going to be okay.

2. Support her healing strategies.

Ask her how her treatment is going and let her share what she’s discovered so far in her healing process. Always know that there are life coaches, therapists, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists she can lean on who are trained in effectively treating mental illnesses.

3. Turn the conversation to something optimistic.

When she talks about what’s wrong, ask her if she sees any lessons. When she talks about what doesn’t feel good, ask her what does feel good. When she talks about suffering, ask her what she can do to feel comfort again. Give her seeds of hope.

4. Let her know how you love her.

If she’s dealing with depression and anxiety, she’s most likely also trying to strengthen her self-awareness and self-esteem. Although you can’t put these strengths in her, you can help her feel reassured that you’re there for her. Share with her what you love about her talents, humor and beauty. You can never say “I love you” too often.

5. Understand her triggers and avoid setting them off.

She may get upset about things that don’t bother you, like your mother’s politics or where you put your shoes at the end of the day. Pay attention to her body language—when she tenses up and seems upset—and notice when you push her buttons.

6. Be gentle yet honest about how you’re feeling.

Share your thoughts, fears, frustrations, ideas, solutions, dreams and revelations. Discuss what makes you happy in the relationship, and fantasize about things you see the two of you doing together. Talk about what excites you about in the relationship and the methods to finding its full potential.

7. Create direct and clear boundaries between yourself and other women.

What you may perceive as unfounded jealousy is actually fear. It is fear that her illnesses will scare you away or that you’ll leave her for another woman who doesn’t have the same problems. Only welcome women into your life who honor and respect your relationship and love your girlfriend/wife as much as you do. Build and maintain bridges of trust.

8. Surround yourself with people who care about you and your girlfriend/wife.

She’ll need to be surrounded by those who love her and hold a supportive and healing space for her. Someone is not part of your positive community if he or she does not show compassion or does not show the respect she deserves for her courage. Keep the tribe and the drama small.

9. Have productive activities that only the two of you share.

Make art together. Go on hikes together. Take an impulsive weekend holiday together to the beach to make sandcastles. Visit a record store or go to a show together. Drive around and point out houses or gardens that you both like. Establish unique bonding time.

10. Give her space to grow and heal on her own.

Be enthusiastic when she tells you about the cooking class she wants to register for. Encourage her to try a restorative yoga class or join the meditation group. Let her have her own set of hobbies and activities that bring her peace of mind, confidence and self-awareness.

11. Make love to her.

The power of affection and sexuality can express love, give comfort and uplift moods like nothing else. It will make her feel beautiful and desired. It will be a satisfying way to reconnect on spiritual, emotional and physical levels. Be affectionate and watch how even in the darkest of times, the deepest sensation of calming hope is available to both of you.

Recovering from depression and anxiety during my own relationship has been challenging, but it also helped us strengthen our companionship. We ask each other questions when we need clarity and we work to respond to each other with compassion. Ultimately, I learned that effective partnership grows from honoring each other’s needs and treating your partner like the fragile and precious person you fell in love with.

Know the warning signs

Learn the common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents.

Mental health conditions

Learn more about common mental health conditions that affect millions

Find Your Local NAMI

Call the NAMI Helpline at

800-950-NAMI

Or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

One of the most important ways to be a good friend is to help your friends when you notice something is wrong. This includes helping them get the support they need and deserve if they are experiencing a mental health condition. This might seem like a big task, but it doesn’t have to be.

How Will I Know if Something’s Wrong?

Sometimes things don’t go our way or bad and unexpected things happen. It’s normal to get upset or sad during upsetting times, but if you feel that your friend isn’t responding normally it might mean that there’s something more serious going on. Here are some signs to look from your friend.

  • Withdrawing from social activities or appearing down for more than 2 weeks. This could mean crying regularly, feeling tired all the time or not wanting to hang out anymore.
  • Self-harming actions such as cutting or burning. Some people may begin to wear long sleeves or pants to cover up signs that they are doing this.
  • Threatening to kill his- or herself or making plans to do so. Although you may not know whether your friend is serious or not, it’s better to be safe and take things seriously.
  • Extreme out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors. Behaviors that can endanger his- or her own life as well as others, such as speeding excessively and not obeying traffic laws, might be a sign that something is wrong.
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, including intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities like hanging out with friends.
  • Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight. Pay attention if your friend isn’t eating much at lunch or going to the bathroom right after meals.
  • Severe mood swings. Life is stressful, but if there seem to be outbursts that go beyond how other people would often act, it might mean something more serious.
  • Repeated use of drugs or alcohol. Coming to class hung over, showing up to sporting events intoxicated or wanting to bring drugs or alcohol into daily activities is not normal.
  • Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits. Your friend might be sleeping much more or much less or get agitated more frequently.
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still.

What Can I Do?

Share Your Concerns

Share your observations with your friend. Focus on being nonjudgmental, compassionate and understanding. Use these “I” (instead of “you”) comments to get the conversation started.

  • I’ve noticed you’re [sleeping more, eating less, etc.]. Is everything okay?
  • I’ve noticed that you haven’t been acting like yourself lately. Is something going on?
  • It makes me afraid to hear you talking like this. Let’s talk to someone about it.

Reach Out to Someone You Trust

If a friend is in need, you don’t need to go at it alone. Involve others who can provide added support. Try to find someone who might be understanding of your friend’s situation or be able to help. Your friend may feel cornered if you start involving others, so make sure to talk to your friend first. However, if it’s an emergency, you should call 911 and get an authority figure. Here are some people you may consider reaching out to:

  • Friends and family
  • School teachers or counselors
  • Faith-based leaders
  • Coaches

Offer Support

Keep in mind that your friend might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through or simply may not want your help right now. You cannot force someone to get help, so just do your best to be there with your friend through their journey and be ready if and when they do finally reach out. It may be helpful to offer specific things that might help, such as:

  • How can I best support you right now? Is there something I can do or can we involve others who can help?
  • Can I help you find mental health services and supports? Can I help you make an appointment?
  • Can I help you with the stuff you need to get done until you’re feeling better?
  • Would you like me to go with you to a support group or a meeting? Do you need a ride to any of your appointments?

You can play an important role in helping a friend build a positive, social support network. Here are ways to do that:

  • Check-in regularly. Call or text your friend once or twice a week. Check in with them after their therapy appointments to see how things went. Let them know that you are there.
  • Include your friend in your plans. Even if your friend doesn’t always come, they will probably appreciate being included.
  • Learn more about mental health conditions. Find out more about what your friend is going through so you are better able to help in future situations.
  • Avoid using judgmental or dismissive language, such as “you’ll get over it,” “toughen up,” “snap out of it.” Your friend needs to hear that they are not alone and that they can get through this. Reassure them that everything will be okay and that you are there for them.

Being a friend means being there in easy times and more difficult times. If your friend is experiencing a mental health condition, this is a time when he or she needs you the most. And sometimes just talking about it might help your friend feel less alone and more understood. You can be the difference in helping a friend who needs support but is too afraid to seek help. Just a simple conversation can go a long way in helping your friend. You can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

Depression can manifest itself in a number of ways: prolonged and pervasive sadness; feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing; changes in appetite; sleep issues; irritability or lack of energy. All of these issues can take a toll on a person and make everyday life hard to manage.

“I often compare depression to the monster-under-the-bed mentality. You never know when it will creep out of its lair, ready to attack and make your life even more difficult and trying,” Karla Culbertson, who has depression, told HuffPost. “Even though it can be extremely difficult to deal with, I find that it’s comforting to have family members and other loved ones who can support you through the darkest nooks of your life.”

One in six people will experience this mental health condition at some point in their life, which means that you or someone close to you is likely to be affected by depression. Below, people who’ve dealt with depression explain how friends and family can help ease the burden.

1. Listen without trying to “fix” anything.

“I’ve found that simply being present for someone while they’re in a down spell can sometimes be the only thing that helps. In those times, try to avoid offering solutions. The solution is to not be depressed, and it can make a depressed person feel like more of a failure because they can’t get back to being happy when it sounds so simple to everyone else. Being empathetic might be the best you can do, and it’s no small favor to the depressed person ― they will remember it and appreciate it.” ― Christie Matherne

2. Help us with the household chores we haven’t been able to tackle.

“Go over and do their laundry so they can stop turning their underwear inside out. Or wash the shame-pyramid of dishes in their sink. When you’re in the shit, talking about how you’re feeling can be helpful, of course it can, but it can also feel like you’re being tasked to explain, while on fire, how exactly it feels to be on fire.” ― @AlecWithPen

3. Offer to help in specific ways instead of just asking generally if there’s anything you can do.

“Don’t say, ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’ It’s such a nice thing to say, but I 100 percent hate it. It puts the ball entirely in the depressed person’s court ― and they’ll just say, ‘No I’m fine’ because they don’t have the willpower to express their needs or make choices.” ― @AlecWithPen

4. Be extra patient with us when we’re going through a rough patch.

“It’s important for a partner to know that I’m trying my best. I may need some space to recharge, I may get frustrated easily, I may need more reassurance that you love me. If I share my struggles with you on an intimate level, it means I trust and love you. A partner also needs to know that I’m working to be the best possible version of myself, but it takes time, effort and practice.” ― Maria Fraschilla

5. Send a quick text or funny DM to let us know you’re thinking of us.

“I love receiving little texts or silly memes from friends. Sometimes I don’t answer because I really don’t feel like it (and I hate myself for that) but I still love receiving these messages. It sometimes saves my day when I’m in the dark and I really wish they could understand that.” ― Sow Ay

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

6. And try not to take it personally if we don’t respond when you reach out.

“People with depression convince ourselves we have nothing of value to add to the world, we shut ourselves off from those who might really want to be in our lives. To them, however, this intense self-loathing looks more like we’re just being arrogant jerks. So, to everyone I never called back or otherwise shut down on, please know it really was me and not you. If you’d just give me another shot while understanding how depression fits into all this, that could be the lifeline I need to pull me out of this pit I’ve dug myself into.” ― Craig Tomashoff

7. Remind us how strong and capable we are when we’re feeling worthless.

“I need you to remind me of all of the things I have overcome and have accomplished. I need you to remind me that there are people in the world who benefit from my positive work ethic and impact.” ― Culbertson

8. Tell us it’s OK to not be OK sometimes.

“Having depression makes me feel guilty all the time: for not going out, for not working enough, for not eating healthy enough, for everything. Being reminded that it’s OK to feel like that, that it’s not my fault because depression is an illness, is also a huge help. And I need to be reminded of that a lot because depression keeps telling me I’m not good enough to do anything.” ― Ay

9. Hold our hand or give us a hug when we don’t feel like talking.

“When I’m at my lowest, my partner will sit next to me, hold me or my hand and I’m incredibly comforted by it. He knows that I’m not much of a talker. He never tries to pry anything from me. Instead, he tells me that he loves me and that he supports me. It’s just the littlest thing that makes me feel like I’m surrounded by love and that the darkness of depression can’t engulf me.” ― Crystal N.

10. Bring us a little gift, like our favorite sweet treat, a thoughtful card or some flowers.

“Small gifts like flowers or candy are always a plus when you’re feeling low. Flowers are beautiful to look at and will often bring a smile to my face. Candy or chocolates are also a plus because they taste delicious, and who can resist chocolate?” ― Culbertson

Validate your depressed friend’s feelings and set appropriate boundaries.

THE BASICS

  • What Is Depression?
  • Find a therapist to overcome depression

Depressed people can be acutely hopeless and hard to console, making friendships difficult. Below are some of my thoughts about what friends can do for a depressed person and how friends can maintain appropriate friendship boundaries with the depressed person in their lives.

Validate the pain and move on. We know that distraction is actually good for depressed people, and rumination — going over the same negative feelings over and over — only encourages further depression. This is not to say that you should ignore your depressed friend’s proclamations of sadness and misery. On the contrary: Validation, listening, and acceptance are helpful, as is encouraging them to also do something other than wallow in their own misery.

Set boundaries. Depressed people may be acutely sensitive to rejection, and you may feel guilty if you try to set boundaries. Don’t feel guilty. Think about what your boundaries are, and respect them. For example, are you okay with listening to the depressed person talk about their miserable life for 10 minutes, but not 1 hour? That’s totally reasonable. Telling the person that you can only talk about their misery for a certain amount of time (10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, whatever you feel is reasonable), and that you will then need to change the subject, is appropriate. This should be something that they respect.

Expect reciprocity. Does the person reciprocate your help and care? Note that this may be difficult when the person is in an acute depression. People in the thick of depression can be a bit self-centered, preoccupied with their own suffering. However, this is not an excuse for not honoring the friendship by at least trying to come through for another person. Even if the friend is too depressed to reciprocate now, a history of reciprocity and the expectation of future reciprocity is important. It is important to hold friends to the standard of reciprocity, or the relationship is no longer a friendship between peers, but something more like a therapeutic relationship or a caregiving relationship.

Ask them what they need, and tell them how you are willing to help. What does the person want? What does he or she want from you? How has the person responded to your previous attempts to help? Has the person responded graciously? Do not do more than you are willing to do. It won’t do you any good to end up resenting the person and it won’t do them any good to feel like you are only being their friend because you feel sorry for them.

Don’t try to be the person’s therapist. If the depressed person needs someone to call in distress in the wee hours of the morning during the time when you need to get your sleep, talks about committing suicide, or has been stuck in the same bad place for months or years on end, they should consult a therapist for professional help.

Depression is among the hardest of hard times, and friends provide an invaluable source of social support and distraction for a depressed person. However, if your depressed friend consistently violates your boundaries or makes you feel guilty about them, and consistently fails to reciprocate or at least appreciate your care and support, then it may not be a healthy friendship for either party.

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

If someone you love has depression, it’s normal to feel at a loss, helpless, or worried about saying the wrong thing. If you’re reading this, though, you’re already doing something right. Looking for answers and learning about depression is an act of care and love in itself.

With around 16 million American adults each year experiencing at least one episode of major depression, there’s not going to be a one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to helping someone who has this mental health condition. Saying the right thing is obviously going to depend on a lot of different factors (like your relationship with the person, their general personality, the current situation, etc.).

The thing is, saying something is often better than saying nothing. If you’re worried about saying the wrong thing, here are a few suggestions that come straight from mental health experts. Of course, you don’t need to say these verbatim, but the sentiment of each one is typically a good place to start.

When a friend or family member tells you they’re dealing with depression, your first instinct may be to point out all the good things in their life.

Unfortunately, depression doesn’t need a good reason to impact someone. “All kinds of people—rich and poor, married and single, and men and women from all walks of life—are vulnerable to feelings of depression,” New York-based clinical psychologist Allison Ross, Ph.D, M.P.H., tells SELF. Shining a light on what you see as the positives in their life won’t help, nor will using what you view as a logical explanation of why they shouldn’t feel depressed, Ross says.

What’s more, saying things like, “You have so much to be grateful for, how can you be sad?” will probably only shame them for feeling that way, Lekeisha Sumner, Ph.D, clinical health psychologist at UCLA, tells SELF.

Roxanne C., 24, tells SELF that when friends make statements like, “You have no reason to be unhappy,” it exacerbates the self-blame already involved in her depression. “Pointing out everything I have that other people don’t makes me feel invalidated,” Roxanne says, because her depression is not based on her circumstances. “I already feel guilty enough for having every opportunity and still feeling this way.”

If someone says they have depression, don’t try to argue. The best thing you can do is simply accept what they are saying and be frank about how much depression sucks.

Another common (and understandable) impulse is to tell the person you understand what they’re going through, but sometimes this isn’t helpful, Emanuel Maidenberg, Ph.D., clinical professor of psychiatry and the director of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Clinic at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, tells SELF.

Let’s be honest: You don’t really know what’s going through any person’s head, even if you also experience depression (more on that in just a moment). Pretending that you do can minimize what your friend is going through. Instead of cultivating empathy, it can actually make them feel more misunderstood and isolated, which of course isn’t your goal.

A better idea? Remind the person that even (or especially) when you don’t totally get it, you’re still 100 percent there for them. This is something Roxanne really appreciates hearing when she feels depressed, she says.

The previous item on this list doesn’t mean you have to clam up about your own mental health. If you’ve dealt with depression in the past or present, you should feel free to let your loved one know. “This information can help a person going through a difficult time feel less alone,” Ross says. “Knowing others have gone through something similar can also help them feel less ashamed or blaming towards themselves for how they’re feeling.”

Again, though, there is a fine line between empathy and presuming you understand every single aspect of what your friend is going through. Avoid statements like, “I know exactly how you feel right now. I’ve felt depressed, too,” clinical psychologist Rudy Nydegger, Ph.D, chief of psychology at Ellis Hospital and professor at Union College, tells SELF.

Instead, you can say you feel for them and, based on what they’re saying, it sounds like you’ve had a similar experience with depression. If they do want to hear more about it, they’ll ask you (and probably appreciate your openness). Otherwise, you can move the conversation forward with some of the other options on this list.

If your friend or relative is experiencing depression and is not in treatment, they would likely benefit from therapy. “Friends and family cannot fulfill the responsibility of a professional,” Nydegger says. “Therapy is not just about talking and getting it off your chest. It is complex and requires a lot of training and experience.”

So, while it’s helpful for you to bring up therapy as a prospect if they aren’t going, that doesn’t mean you should say things like, “You should really see someone” or “You need professional help,” which can be patronizing.

Instead, make the suggestion “gently and tentatively,” Ross says. Phrase it as an open-ended question, not a demand, by asking what they think about seeing a mental health professional. Maybe they’ll shut the conversation down, in which case you can revisit it later. Or maybe they’re waffling on the idea and could use the extra support and destigmatization. “You may need to encourage them to seek professional treatment,” Sumner says. “For most people, treatment is effective,” Sumner says. But they also need to be open to it.

The catch is that, even if your loved one is interested in therapy, it can be incredibly hard to find a therapist who takes their insurance if they have it, to find someone who’s affordable if they don’t, to find someone who’s taking new clients at this time. the list goes on. If you have the bandwidth, offering to help your friend search can be a kind show of love and support.

After that, though, give the person the chance to take action. “Encourage the prospective patient to make the call themselves,” Nydegger says. “[The person] should take the responsibility for their care and make the arrangements.”

Socializing, exercising, and simply getting out of the house can be beneficial for people with depression, depending on their situation. But they likely know this already, so simply saying something like, “Why don’t you go for a run?” isn’t likely to be helpful.

Instead, center these kinds of suggestions around the opportunity to do something together, Nydegger says, like asking if they’d like to join you for a walk. “You drop it if they say no—don’t lecture,” Nydegger says. Following up with something like, “You know sunshine and exercise are good for you!” is exactly what they don’t need to hear, and it won’t help. “It just shows that you don’t understand how badly the person feels, and it often creates resistance,” Nydegger says.

Not everyone who experiences depression also experiences suicidal thoughts, so this may not be relevant in all situations. However, if someone close to you has opened up about their mental health situation to you, or if you’ve noticed drastic changes in their mood or behavior, it may be appropriate to broach this subject.

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

Being in a relationship with someone suffering from depression or anxiety can be challenging. You wish you could turn a switch that would magically make her feel happy again, but in reality, healing takes patience and compassion.

But there’s hope for joy, peace and relief. Here are 11 ways to make your relationship function better by communicating openly and understanding that her illnesses do not define her:

1. Only play the role of the partner.

You’re not the doctor, therapist or parent. There will be many times when she’ll want to cry or vent, and the best thing you can do is be there to comfort her. Let her know everything is going to be okay.

2. Support her healing strategies.

Ask her how her treatment is going and let her share what she’s discovered so far in her healing process. Always know that there are life coaches, therapists, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists she can lean on who are trained in effectively treating mental illnesses.

3. Turn the conversation to something optimistic.

When she talks about what’s wrong, ask her if she sees any lessons. When she talks about what doesn’t feel good, ask her what does feel good. When she talks about suffering, ask her what she can do to feel comfort again. Give her seeds of hope.

4. Let her know how you love her.

If she’s dealing with depression and anxiety, she’s most likely also trying to strengthen her self-awareness and self-esteem. Although you can’t put these strengths in her, you can help her feel reassured that you’re there for her. Share with her what you love about her talents, humor and beauty. You can never say “I love you” too often.

5. Understand her triggers and avoid setting them off.

She may get upset about things that don’t bother you, like your mother’s politics or where you put your shoes at the end of the day. Pay attention to her body language—when she tenses up and seems upset—and notice when you push her buttons.

6. Be gentle yet honest about how you’re feeling.

Share your thoughts, fears, frustrations, ideas, solutions, dreams and revelations. Discuss what makes you happy in the relationship, and fantasize about things you see the two of you doing together. Talk about what excites you about in the relationship and the methods to finding its full potential.

7. Create direct and clear boundaries between yourself and other women.

What you may perceive as unfounded jealousy is actually fear. It is fear that her illnesses will scare you away or that you’ll leave her for another woman who doesn’t have the same problems. Only welcome women into your life who honor and respect your relationship and love your girlfriend/wife as much as you do. Build and maintain bridges of trust.

8. Surround yourself with people who care about you and your girlfriend/wife.

She’ll need to be surrounded by those who love her and hold a supportive and healing space for her. Someone is not part of your positive community if he or she does not show compassion or does not show the respect she deserves for her courage. Keep the tribe and the drama small.

9. Have productive activities that only the two of you share.

Make art together. Go on hikes together. Take an impulsive weekend holiday together to the beach to make sandcastles. Visit a record store or go to a show together. Drive around and point out houses or gardens that you both like. Establish unique bonding time.

10. Give her space to grow and heal on her own.

Be enthusiastic when she tells you about the cooking class she wants to register for. Encourage her to try a restorative yoga class or join the meditation group. Let her have her own set of hobbies and activities that bring her peace of mind, confidence and self-awareness.

11. Make love to her.

The power of affection and sexuality can express love, give comfort and uplift moods like nothing else. It will make her feel beautiful and desired. It will be a satisfying way to reconnect on spiritual, emotional and physical levels. Be affectionate and watch how even in the darkest of times, the deepest sensation of calming hope is available to both of you.

Recovering from depression and anxiety during my own relationship has been challenging, but it also helped us strengthen our companionship. We ask each other questions when we need clarity and we work to respond to each other with compassion. Ultimately, I learned that effective partnership grows from honoring each other’s needs and treating your partner like the fragile and precious person you fell in love with.

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

Tang Ming Tung / Getty Images

Friendships can enrich your life in many ways. Good friends teach you about yourself and challenge you to be better. They encourage you to keep going when times get tough and celebrate your successes with you.

But friends do a lot more than give you a shoulder to cry on; they also have a positive impact on your health. Some research even says friendships are just as important to your well-being as eating right and exercising.  

So how do friendships contribute to your well-being?

Friends Are Good for Your Physical Health

It turns out that healthy relationships actually contribute to good physical health. Having a close circle of friends can decrease your risk of health problems like diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

Having strong social ties can also decrease feelings of loneliness, which evidence shows can take a toll on your longevity. According to a 2010 review, people with strong relationships have half the risk of premature death from all causes.  

Social isolation and loneliness are linked to a variety of health issues such as high blood pressure, substance abuse, heart disease, and even cancer.  

Friends Encourage Healthy Behaviors

One possible explanation for those health benefits is that friendships can help you make lifestyle changes that can have a direct impact on your well-being. For example, your friends can help you set and maintain goals to eat better and exercise more.   They can also watch out for you and give a heads-up when any unhealthy behaviors (like drinking too much) get out of hand.

Additionally, people are more motivated and likely to stick to a weight loss or exercise program when they do it with a buddy. It’s much easier to get out and stay active when you have a friend by your side.

That friend may also suggest activities that you would not have considered on your own—thus, pushing you outside your comfort zone to challenge your anxiety.

Friends Give You Emotional Support

If you find yourself going through a hard time, having a friend to help you through can make the transition easier.

Research also shows that happiness is contagious among friends. One study of high school students found that those who were depressed were twice as likely to recover if they had happy friends. Likewise, kids were half as likely to develop depression if their friends had a “healthy mood.”  

Friends Help Build Your Confidence

Everyone has self-doubts and insecurities every now and then. But having friends who support you plays a big role in building your self-esteem, or how much you appreciate and love yourself.

Supportive friends can help you feel more confident by offering praise and reassurance when you’re feeling unsure. They’ll shine a light on just how amazing you are and how much you have to offer others.

Friends Help You Beat Stress

Everyone goes through stressful events. If you know you have people you can count on, you may be less likely to even perceive a tough time as stressful.

Spending time with friends can also help reduce stress. According to Harvard Medical School, “social connections help relieve levels of stress, which can harm the heart’s arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system.”  

Friends can also help you cope with stressful situations. According to one small study, when children hang out with their friends during a stressful situation, they produce less cortisol, a hormone released when the body is under stress.  

As the song goes: “We all need somebody to lean on.”

A lack of friends can leave you feeling lonely and without support, which makes you vulnerable to other problems such as depression and substance abuse.  

Friends Push You To Be Your Best

Friends can also provide a positive influence. If you make friends with people who are generous with their time, help others, or are ambitious or family-oriented, you are more likely to develop those values yourself.  

Great friends have the power to mold you into the best version of yourself. They see you and love you for who you truly are. They encourage you and push you to do better and be the person you want to be—your “ideal self.”

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

Depression can manifest itself in a number of ways: prolonged and pervasive sadness; feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing; changes in appetite; sleep issues; irritability or lack of energy. All of these issues can take a toll on a person and make everyday life hard to manage.

“I often compare depression to the monster-under-the-bed mentality. You never know when it will creep out of its lair, ready to attack and make your life even more difficult and trying,” Karla Culbertson, who has depression, told HuffPost. “Even though it can be extremely difficult to deal with, I find that it’s comforting to have family members and other loved ones who can support you through the darkest nooks of your life.”

One in six people will experience this mental health condition at some point in their life, which means that you or someone close to you is likely to be affected by depression. Below, people who’ve dealt with depression explain how friends and family can help ease the burden.

1. Listen without trying to “fix” anything.

“I’ve found that simply being present for someone while they’re in a down spell can sometimes be the only thing that helps. In those times, try to avoid offering solutions. The solution is to not be depressed, and it can make a depressed person feel like more of a failure because they can’t get back to being happy when it sounds so simple to everyone else. Being empathetic might be the best you can do, and it’s no small favor to the depressed person ― they will remember it and appreciate it.” ― Christie Matherne

2. Help us with the household chores we haven’t been able to tackle.

“Go over and do their laundry so they can stop turning their underwear inside out. Or wash the shame-pyramid of dishes in their sink. When you’re in the shit, talking about how you’re feeling can be helpful, of course it can, but it can also feel like you’re being tasked to explain, while on fire, how exactly it feels to be on fire.” ― @AlecWithPen

3. Offer to help in specific ways instead of just asking generally if there’s anything you can do.

“Don’t say, ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’ It’s such a nice thing to say, but I 100 percent hate it. It puts the ball entirely in the depressed person’s court ― and they’ll just say, ‘No I’m fine’ because they don’t have the willpower to express their needs or make choices.” ― @AlecWithPen

4. Be extra patient with us when we’re going through a rough patch.

“It’s important for a partner to know that I’m trying my best. I may need some space to recharge, I may get frustrated easily, I may need more reassurance that you love me. If I share my struggles with you on an intimate level, it means I trust and love you. A partner also needs to know that I’m working to be the best possible version of myself, but it takes time, effort and practice.” ― Maria Fraschilla

5. Send a quick text or funny DM to let us know you’re thinking of us.

“I love receiving little texts or silly memes from friends. Sometimes I don’t answer because I really don’t feel like it (and I hate myself for that) but I still love receiving these messages. It sometimes saves my day when I’m in the dark and I really wish they could understand that.” ― Sow Ay

How to help a friend with depression learn to love life again

6. And try not to take it personally if we don’t respond when you reach out.

“People with depression convince ourselves we have nothing of value to add to the world, we shut ourselves off from those who might really want to be in our lives. To them, however, this intense self-loathing looks more like we’re just being arrogant jerks. So, to everyone I never called back or otherwise shut down on, please know it really was me and not you. If you’d just give me another shot while understanding how depression fits into all this, that could be the lifeline I need to pull me out of this pit I’ve dug myself into.” ― Craig Tomashoff

7. Remind us how strong and capable we are when we’re feeling worthless.

“I need you to remind me of all of the things I have overcome and have accomplished. I need you to remind me that there are people in the world who benefit from my positive work ethic and impact.” ― Culbertson

8. Tell us it’s OK to not be OK sometimes.

“Having depression makes me feel guilty all the time: for not going out, for not working enough, for not eating healthy enough, for everything. Being reminded that it’s OK to feel like that, that it’s not my fault because depression is an illness, is also a huge help. And I need to be reminded of that a lot because depression keeps telling me I’m not good enough to do anything.” ― Ay

9. Hold our hand or give us a hug when we don’t feel like talking.

“When I’m at my lowest, my partner will sit next to me, hold me or my hand and I’m incredibly comforted by it. He knows that I’m not much of a talker. He never tries to pry anything from me. Instead, he tells me that he loves me and that he supports me. It’s just the littlest thing that makes me feel like I’m surrounded by love and that the darkness of depression can’t engulf me.” ― Crystal N.

10. Bring us a little gift, like our favorite sweet treat, a thoughtful card or some flowers.

“Small gifts like flowers or candy are always a plus when you’re feeling low. Flowers are beautiful to look at and will often bring a smile to my face. Candy or chocolates are also a plus because they taste delicious, and who can resist chocolate?” ― Culbertson