Being around someone with depression can be very difficult. When someone that we care about is suffering, our natural inclination is to try to help. Operating around depression is the cultural myth that the person with depression just needs to try harder or snap out of it. There is nothing that a person with depression wants more than to be able to “snap out of it,” to be able to wake up one morning and not to be wrapped up in the heavy shroud that is depression.
Depression is like a well engineered virus. It undermines our efforts to do the things that will help to weaken it. It convinces us that we are too tired to exercise. It tells us, over and over, that seeking help is futile as no one could possibly understand. It destroys hope.
This article has some good suggestions about what not to say and how to help someone with depression. I would add that it is imperative that the person offering help not take it personally when the person with depression balks at the suggestions you make. If you offer, for example, to go for a walk with a depressed person and they decline, wait a while and ask again. Remember that there is nothing you can do to take the depression away from someone else. Be present with them, listen to them and be lovingly persistent until they find their way out.