Dealing with depression is hard enough. Then when you consider talking about your depression with friends and family, you might get overwhelmed. You know you’ll feel better when you open up to them. But how? You probably ask yourself things like,
“What do I say?”
“What will they think of me?”
“Will I look weak?”
“Will they want to associate with me anymore?”
“They don’t want to hear about it.”
It’s understandable to have thoughts like this. If you’re like many others with depression, you have an inner voice urging you to feel worse about yourself. This can cause self-loathing, self-doubt, and the inability to believe that people care.
It’s also understandable for you to be nervous about sharing your mental health struggles. Talking about depression with people you care about is personal. And it’s a big deal.
But it’s definitely the right move.
Contrary to what your depression is telling you, people do care. People want to hear about your mental health struggles. People want to help.
Why Talking About Depression is Crucial to Your Mental Health
Talking about depression with your friends and family can be extremely healing. While not everyone will be equally supportive, there is always someone you can talk to when you give it some serious consideration.
Disclosing your mental health struggles with those closest to you is the first step to overcoming depression and feeling more like yourself. There are several benefits to talking about depression.
When you talk to your friends and family members about your mental health concerns, you:
- Reduce your stress level: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), talking about depression with someone can improve your mood and reduce your stress level.
- Gain accountability: When you open up to trusted individuals about your depression, it helps them see what you’re going through. And they’ll be better able to tell if your symptoms worsen.
- Have a solid support system: It’s a good idea to talk to a select few trusted family members or friends about a crisis plan. Hopefully, things don’t get to that point, but in case of an emergency, putting together a list of resources, information, and directions is a good idea. That way, your support system will know exactly what to do.
You can also ask your trusted support system for rides to and from therapy appointments or even ask them to attend with you if you think it will benefit you.
- Get the help you need: Depression isn’t a choice you make. It’s a lot more than feeling “sad.” It’s a diagnosable clinical illness you can’t simply “get over”. (Despite what some not-so-helpful people may say. These aren’t the people you confide in.)
When considering how to talk about depression with others, one of the most critical things you should focus on is that depression is treatable. Talking about your depression with others means you can get the help you need from a mental health professional. And when you do, you’ll be on your way to feeling more like yourself.
The Who, When, and What of Talking About Your Depression
Along with considering the “How” to talk about depression, it’s important to define the “who,” “when,” and “what to say.” You don’t have to write pages and pages of a plan. But it’s wise to have a general idea of your who, when, what, and how.
Who to Talk to About Your Depression
As we mentioned above, not everyone will be the most supportive and understanding person when it comes to talking about mental health concerns. Providing emotional support isn’t everyone’s forté.
When thinking about who you’re going to open up to, write down an initial list of people who come to mind. These could be family members, friends, co-workers, a coach, a pastor, a teacher, or whomever you feel you can trust.
Then study the names, thinking about which of the people you wrote down are the first to hug you when you’re not feeling so cheerful. Who is a good listener? Who will do their best to understand and take you seriously?
When to Talk About Your Depression With Others
The best time to talk to others about your depression is when you’re feeling relatively well. When you’re calm, you’ll be better able to discuss your feelings and what you’ve been experiencing.
However, if you need to discuss your depression when you aren’t feeling well, go to the most supportive and trusting person in your life and talk to them. They can support you through your current struggles and help you talk to other people about your depression if you need them to.
Timing when to talk about your depression can be tricky. But if discussing your mental health concerns serves a particular purpose, it’s a good time. For example, you should speak with your employer if you miss whole or partial days of work because of your depression. Or, if you are in danger of losing a close friend because you don’t feel like hanging out very often, it might be a good time to talk to them.
While it’s not wise to wait a long time to discuss your symptoms of depression with others, it’s okay to wait until you’re ready. You may feel like you’ll never be ready. You may not feel comfortable discussing your mental health struggles with friends or family, even though you know you need to talk to somebody.
If this is the case, you can try talking to a therapist or counselor or calling the NAMI helpline at 1-800-950-6264 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
What to Say When Talking About Your Depression
There’s no correct formula when deciding what to say when talking about depression. Everyone’s situation is unique. Thinking about what you’re going to say may be the most daunting step. It’s best to break it down into three parts:
- Talking about talking
- Talking about your specific concerns
- Suggesting how they can help you
- Talking about talking: This is the initial broaching of the topic. You could say to a trusted friend or relative something like,
“I would like to talk to you about something, but I’m not sure how to do it. I’m worried you’ll judge me. If I tell you something, can you please try to be understanding and not laugh at me?”
- Talking about your specific concerns: Try giving at least two concrete examples of why you’re concerned about your mental health. You could say things like,
“I never feel up to doing the things I normally love to do. If I don’t get help, I’m scared I’ll never leave the house.”
“I just feel so sad all the time. I know I don’t have anything to be “sad” about. But I just can’t shake feeling so down.”
- Suggesting how they can help you: One of the most challenging things about being the one confided in is not knowing what you can do to help. To make talking about depression go smoothly for you and them, it’s a good idea to give your friend or family member a couple of ideas on ways to help you.
“I don’t know how to find a good therapist for me. Can you help?”
“I need you to keep me accountable for going to my therapy appointments. Can you drive me?”
Finding Depression Treatment
Whether you’re enlisting the help of a trusted confidante or seeking depression treatment yourself, choosing the right provider is crucial to your healing journey. If you’re looking for depression treatment in San Diego, contact our team of highly-trained, experienced, compassionate professionals at BOLD Health.
We have a comprehensive team of mental health professionals proficient in all areas of mental health. We also provide the best mental health therapy in San Diego. Our BOLD approach is unparalleled to any other. That’s because we treat more than your symptoms.
We treat you as a person in your extraordinary individuality.
Your personalized depression therapy in San Diego is tailored to meet your needs. We look at your biological, genetic, structural, and medical foundation to build your treatment program. This holistic approach allows us to understand and address why you’ve come to your current mental health situation.
When you complete treatment at BOLD Health, no matter how long it takes, you’ll feel better and be armed with the tools and strategies to continue feeling that way, but you’ll understand who you are better than ever before.
Thinking about how to talk about depression is the first step. Whether you confide in others or our clinicians first, you’re making a wise decision. When you’re ready to talk to us, we’ll be here. Today and far into the future.