Helping someone with depression is usually not as difficult as it seems if you start with two quick tips. First, don’t give advice. It will almost always come across as minimizing the gnawing pain that people feel when they are depressed. Too often, we don’t know what to say to someone who is depressed and we nervously throw out some advice. “Look on the bright side…” or “Why don’t you just snap out of it!” Such comments rarely end up helping someone with depression. If you want to encourage someone to exercise it’s better to offer to do something together than to lob a piece of advice over the fence.
Second, try to plan contact with the person on some kind of regular basis and schedule it. Depression takes the wind out of our ability to look forward to things. Clinical depression often feels like one is sliding into a pit of hopelessness. Therefore, helping someone with depression can take the form of planning something at least a few days in advance so that your friend, coworker, or loved one will begin looking forward to something positive. This might include listening or it may involve just shooting the breeze without discussing depression.