How to Help a Friend Overcome Depression
How to Help a Friend with a Broken Heart
If your friend is dealing with a breakup, the death of a loved one, or any other hard time, you probably want to do whatever you can to help. While there's nothing you can do or say to make the pain go away, you can be there for your friend and offer plenty of support. Regardless of your friend's situation, being a good friend can go a long way in helping heal a broken heart.
Short Video: How to Help a Friend with a Broken Heart
The best way to support a friend with a broken heart is to acknowledge their pain without judgement. Encourage your friend to express their feelings and grieve in their own way. Check up on your friend frequently and offer to help with everyday tasks, like chores or errands. Help your friend move on by reminding them how strong they are and encouraging them to be independent.For advice from our Mental Health reviewer on how to help prevent destructive behavior, like obsessions, read on!
Being There for Your Friend
Encourage grieving.Your friend needs to deal with their emotions in order to get through this tough time, so encourage them to tackle them head-on. Remind them that they will never feel better if they are in denial about what has happened or ignores how they are feeling about it.
- Let them know it's okay to cry. Tears can help them heal!
- If you feel like your friend is bottling their emotions up inside, explain to them that doing so can make it harder to get past the hurt.
- The stages of grief typically include sadness, shock, remorse, withdrawal, and acceptance. Don't be too alarmed if your friend experiences all of these, or if they go away and then come back.
- Everyone grieves differently, so try not to be judgmental of your friend's process. If, however, they seem to be paralyzed by their grief and do not seem to be getting any better, consider suggesting that they see a grief counselor.
- If your friend has lost someone close to them, it may help them grieve if you help them plan a memorial of some kind.
Listen.Sharing their feelings will help your friend heal their broken heart, so make sure they know you are there to listen to them whenever they need you. Be a good listener and let your friend talk for as long as they want.
- Be sure to tell your friend that you are willing to listen. They may really want to talk, but be worried about burdening you.
- Reach out to your friend as soon as you hear about what happened and let them know you're thinking about them. You can let them know then that you are willing to listen, but don't take offense if they don't feel like talking yet.
- Avoid giving advice unless your friend asks for it. Your friend may just feel like venting.
- If your friend doesn't want to talk, encourage them to write their thoughts down in a journal.
- It's okay to ask questions about what happened, especially if you are close friends. Doing so will help you understand what they are going through and how you can help.
Be empathetic.Let your friend know that you care about their feelings and want to help them through this tough time. Instead of passing judgment, simply acknowledge their pain and tell them you are sorry that they have to experience it.
- Always express simple condolences by saying something like, "I'm sorry for your loss."
- If your friend is going through a breakup, don't feel like you need to say anything negative about their ex to make them feel better. Instead of saying something like, "They were a jerk and you're better off without them," just acknowledge the sense of loss your friend is feeling by saying, "It must be really hard to lose someone you cared about so much."
- It also typically does not help to try to show your friend the silver lining of their situation. Instead of saying, "Everything happens for a reason," just say, "I'm sorry about what you're going through. How can I help?"
- Don't tell your friend that whatever happened happened for a reason. You run the risk of trivializing their pain if you say something like this.
Check up on your friend.Heartbreak can stick around for a long time, so don't expect your friend to be fine after a day or two. Check in on them regularly and ask them how they are feeling. Always remind them that you are there to help and support them however they need.
- Don't wait for them to reach out to you. They may really need you, but they may not be feeling up to making contact.
- Call your friend, text them, or leave them a note to let them know you're thinking about them. Depending on how close the two of you are, you may want to do this every day or every few days until they seem to be feeling a little better.
- Call at strategic times to show your friend that you are thinking about them. For example, if a loved one has just passed away, you shouldn't call during the funeral, but it would be nice to call that evening or the next day to see how your friend is doing.
- When you check in on your friend, be sure to remind them that you're there for them if they feel like talking.
Offer to help out with small things.If your friend is so down in the dumps that they have been neglecting everyday tasks, offer to help them out. For example, bring them some groceries or visit them to help out with math homework.
- If your friend declines your help, let them know it's an open invitation.
- If you are close friends, consider surprising them with something unexpected, like having a pizza delivered to their house.
- Consider inviting them over for a meal. This will help them get the nourishment they need and it will get them out of the house, which will probably be good for them.
Don't push it.While it's great that you want to help your friend, there's only so much you can do. You need to allow your friend to grieve in their own way and give them the time they need to get past their pain. Don't expect them to bounce back right away or try to force them to get over it.
- Remember that during this time your friend may seem a little selfish and may not be the best friend to you. Try to be understanding and look past this. They will be back to their old selves eventually.
- Take small steps when encouraging your friend to be active. If they aren't comfortable going to a party, ask them if they want to come over and watch a movie with you.
Helping Your Friend Move On
Tell your friend how strong they are.Your friend might not be feeling very good about themselves right now, so it will help to remind them how incredibly strong and wonderful they are. Tell your friend everything you admire about them and let them know that these qualities are just what they need to get through this tough time.
- Consider making a list of your friend's best qualities. This may be just what they need to cheer them up.
- Offer specific examples of why you think your friend is strong. Remind them of other difficult things they have dealt with in their life and tell them you are proud of how they handled them.
Help them be independent.If your friend was used to doing everything with someone who is no longer in their life, such as an ex, they may feel like they needs that person in their life in order to function. Help your friend realize that they are perfectly capable of living a satisfying life without this person by encouraging them to do things with friends and by themselves.
- This may involve helping your friend find new hobbies that won't remind them of their ex or even helping them make some new friends. If most of the people that they used to spend time with are friends with their ex, try introducing them to some new people who don't even know the ex.
- If your friend has hobbies or activities that they used to enjoy, make sure they stick with them. This will really help them get their mind off of the breakup.
Be active together.Physical activities can do wonders for the spirit, so try to get your friend moving. Any kind of exercise, whether it's an organized sport or just fooling around, will do them good.
- Consider inviting them to an exercise class with you.
- If you can't convince them to do anything too strenuous, see if they will go for a walk with you.
Encourage them to seek professional help.If your friend is having an especially hard time coping with their broken heart, encourage them to talk to a therapist. A professional may be able to offer your friend the kind of support and encouragement that their loved ones simply cannot.
- This is especially important if your friend feel suicidal or has been engaging in self-destructive behavior like doing drugs or hurting themselves. Your friend needs help, so make sure they get it!
- A support group may also be an option, depending on what kind of heartbreak your friend is dealing with. This will give them the opportunity to talk to other people who know exactly what they are going through.
Preventing Destructive Behavior
Suggest a technology timeout.If your friend is going through a breakup, they may be itching to badmouth their ex or rant about it on social media, but this really won't do them any good. Try to convince them to take some time away from social media and to keep the details of their relationship private. This will also help them avoid seeing anything that their ex and/or friends may have posted about the breakup.
- A technology timeout may be appropriate for other kinds of heartbreak as well, especially if they are being overwhelmed by people expressing their sympathy.
Discourage obsessive behavior.Some activities will just make your friend's pain worse, so try to identify destructive habits that get your friend upset and discourage them from doing those things. Let them know how you feel about this and encourage them to stop the behavior.
- Make sure your friend is not harassing their ex after a breakup. If they keep calling their ex or asking everyone they know about what their ex is doing, let them know that you are concerned.
- If your friend just lost their job, discourage them from reading (or posting) negative reviews about their former company online.
Watch out for unhealthy habits.It can be easy to neglect your health when you're going through a tough time, so make sure your friend is not doing this. If you notice that they are not getting enough sleep, not eating properly, or has started drinking or taking drugs, express your concern and encourage them to make healthier choices.
- Sit your friend down for a one-on-one intervention if you notice any of this behavior. They may not even realize what they are doing to themselves.
- If you are really concerned about your friend, talk to other people who can help you help your friend. This is especially important if your friend is a minor. Their parents need to know about their destructive behavior.
View rebound relationships with caution.There are mixed views on whether or not it is a good idea to get into a new relationship right after a breakup. If your friend is jumping into a new relationship right after breaking up with someone else, it may be a good idea to talk to them about their reasons for wanting to find a new partner so quickly.
- If they are trying to fill the void left by their ex by getting into a relationship with someone who they wouldn't ordinarily be interested in, the rebound relationship will probably cause them (and the person they are dating) more harm than good.
- If, on the other hand, they feel ready to get back out there and seem to have a good understanding of what they are looking for in a partner, a new relationship may be just what they need.
QuestionI am dating a girl who had a terrible breakup. She was so hurt she told me she cannot love anybody else. How best can I help her love again?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTreat her with love. Joke around with her. Show you love her and that she is valuable.Thanks!
QuestionMy friend just experienced a horrible break up, her girlfriend was using her to test her sexuality. I want to talk to her ex and let her know how I feel about this, but how?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you don't personally know your friend's ex, it may be best to stay out of it, even though you care and are concerned for your friend. You never really know what was going on in the ex's mind. She could have genuinely been attracted to your friend and after trying things out, she decided it wasn't her thing. (Nothing wrong with that really.) She may not have intended to hurt your friend, she just didn't have the same feelings. People have to go on dates first to decide if they want to continue to pursue the relationship. Being dumped hurts. Being supportive to your friend is more important than confronting her ex because it won't change the outcome. You are a good, caring friend though.Thanks!
QuestionI'm a girl and my best guy friend just got dumped by his girlfriend. He's been visibly depressed for a while, but won't open up. It hurts me to see him like this. What should I do to help him?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAll you can do is be there for him. Go to the movies or hang out. Accept that it might hurt him worse to talk about it at the moment, and try to be patient. If you're around, he will talk to you when he's ready.Thanks!
QuestionMy best friend is far away from his girlfriend. He cries about her practically all the time, and I want to make him happy, but there's one problem: I love him. What do I do, help him or help me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerReal love is sacrificial. Set yourself aside for the moment and focus on how to be a genuinely good friend. WikiHow's article on how to make someone happy would be a good place to start looking for ideas on how to help him through this.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if I've fallen in love with my friend's ex? I don't want to ruin the friendship, what should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on how long they've been broken up and why they broke up. If it's been a while and the breakup was fairly amicable, like if they just weren't right for each other, you should tell your friend how you feel about the ex and see how she feels about the situation. If it was a very ugly breakup and she's still not over it, you may lose the friendship if you purse the ex, you'll just have to decide if it's worth it.Thanks!
QuestionMy friend recently broke up with her girlfriend. She has been really sad because she thinks her mom doesn't care about her and she's only just stopped cutting, I don't know what to do.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf your friend has been cutting herself, that is not okay. It sounds like you are worried your friend may try to hurt herself again because of the recent breakup, which could be a trigger. Self-harm/ cutting can be a sign of depression and can indicate a risk for suicide. It sounds like your friend needs counseling to deal with some emotional pain. If you are really worried about your friend's safety, you should talk to an adult you can trust or a school counselor. I know it's really awkward to bring this up to someone, but I lost a friend to suicide who might still be here if I would have raised the alarms and gotten him help. Help your friend get the help she needs.Thanks!
QuestionMy friend sent me a text with broken heart emoji, how should I deal with the situation?Community AnswerAsk her how she is and what's up and let her know you are there for her.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I help someone whose crush is dating someone else? I feel really bad for her, and I've tried a lot of these things.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTell her that maybe he isn't as great as she thought. There are many guys out there and she probably has time to find "the one". Crushes come and go. Try and distract her from thinking about him. Be as kind as you can when doing the suggested or it might seem like you want to do the opposite of helping her.Thanks!
QuestionMy good friend just stopped talking to her ex about a month ago. He left the country and is now getting married in his country to someone else. She is devastated. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGoing to parties or social events can take her mind off of him, you can certainly comfort her in her time of heartbreak. but I would avoid things that remind her of him. The best thing is to just be there for her and time will eventually heal her.Thanks!
QuestionMy friend was in love with a guy and he liked her a little too. She recently found out he was using her. She's heartbroken and really hurt. With my anxiety issues, I worry she'll kill herself. What can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHelp her through it. Let her know that you are there for her. The right guy is out there somewhere! If you think she is actually thinking about killing herself, you should let an adult know. She might be mad at you for telling an adult at first, but it is better than her killing herself.Thanks!
- If your friend wants to talk, let them talk. Make sure that you are truly listening. Do not interrupt.
- You might find yourself in a tough situation if your friend is going through a breakup and you are friends with the ex as well. It's important to talk with your friends about their expectations so they won't end up getting angry with you for for talking to their ex in the future.
Sources and Citations
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