How do I communicate when someone is depressed?
Communication is key when establishing healthy relationships. Using effective communication when someone is living with depression or bipolar disorder is important, but you may not know how to do it.
You may be relieved to hear that effectively communicating when someone lives with a mood disorder is similar to effectively communicating with anyone else! Start with
- demonstrating respect
- being patient
- staying calm
- and using active listening (listening attentively, repeating back what you have heard, withholding judgement).
Base your communication in the understanding that depression and bipolar disorder are medical conditions, not a personal choice. This will help you avoid saying things like, “snap out of this,” “just pull yourself together,” or “you have nothing to be depressed about.”
If your loved one is experiencing a depressive episode, reiterate how much you care about them. Tell them you would like to help. Gently encourage them to meet with their mental health provider. If they have never been treated for depression, read more about helping someone start the treatment process.
Talking to someone experiencing a manic episode can be challenging. Be patient and listen more than you talk. You do not have to agree with everything they are saying, but resist the urge to argue. Keep your conversations straightforward and simple. Minimize conflict so as not to agitate the situation further. Learn more about mania through our bipolar disorder webinars.
Communicating with teens is hard.
Dr. Mary Fristad offers 5 ways to get your teen to open up about their mental health.