IT’S OK TO BE DIRECT
If you suspect a loved one is struggling with depression, ask how she’s feeling. “Often, the person pulls away to process her emotions,” says Laurie Barrett of Pittsburgh, who experiences depression. “But this can quickly escalate to loneliness and isolation.”
The language you use is important. Try something like, “You seem bummed lately. Your energy feels different. I’ve noticed you canceling plans.
I’m not upset but want to check in.” If she opens up about her depression, simply listen. “Avoid saying things like ‘Stop being so negative’ or ‘It will pass.’ This can be dismissive and imply that depression is a choice, which isn’t true,” says Don Mordecai, M.D., national leader for mental health and wellness at Kaiser Permanente.
Try offering concrete help like “Can I come over and cook dinner?” A general “Do you need help?” puts the burden on the person with depression to think of an answer, adding more to her overflowing plate.