COVID-19 and Depression
We are living in an unprecedented moment and the effects of the pandemic have left many hurting. The range of emotions we are all feeling ─ including being depressed, anxious and afraid ─ are normal responses to the overwhelming stress.
Some people will bounce back on their own and some people will need more support to recover. For those who were already vulnerable to the negative effects of stress, managing through this may be even harder.
It’s important we understand these challenges and do everything we can to help the people we care about stay connected and get the support they need.
As catholics, we are called to help others, so here is some information to help others in need:
There’s no perfect way to respond when someone talks to you about something like depression. Just listening with an open mind can help them feel understood and supported. There are also simple things you can say to let them know you care about them and want to help. Here’s a list of ideas:
– “You’re not alone in this. I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.”
– “Asking for help is a sign of strength. Have you talked to your doctor about this?”
– “I’m here for you. Whenever you want to talk, I’ll listen — I’m just a call or a text away.”
– “Depression is a real health issue that can be treated. What steps can you take to talk to a doctor or counselor about how you’re feeling?”
– “What can I do to support you?”
If you think someone is depressed, talk to them about it. It might be uncomfortable, but it can make a real difference — especially if they’ve been too afraid or embarrassed to reach out for help. Approaching them and offering your support sends a powerful message that they’re not alone. Here’s a list of ideas:
– “I’ve noticed that you’ve been _____. Is there anything you want to talk about?”
– “Lately I’ve gotten the feeling that you’re having a difficult time, and I’m worried about you. What’s going on?”
– “It seems like you are going through a lot right now. Can we talk about what’s bothering you? Maybe I can help.”
– “You seem really down lately, and I’m starting to wonder if you might be depressed.”
– “I care about you, and it seems like you’re really struggling. Would you be open to talking to a doctor or counselor about what you’re going through?”
Talking about depression can be tough, even when you have the best intentions. Certain things that sound helpful really don’t help — in fact, they might make someone feel like you aren’t taking their problems seriously.
What not to say and why
– “I know exactly how you feel.” Why? Because no one knows exactly how anyone else feels. This is not a helpful way to make someone feel understood when their depression has become overwhelming.
– “Everyone gets depressed sometimes.” Why? Because it sounds dismissive — and it’s not true. Everyone gets sad sometimes or has a bad day. Everyone does not get depressed.
– “You have no reason to be depressed.” Why? Because it can make people feel guilty, ashamed, or like their feelings don’t count. Life events can sometimes play a role, but depression often has no specific reason, trigger, or cause.
– “Hang in there. It will pass.” Why? Because it’s unhelpful and untrue. Chances are, they’ve been feeling this way for some time, and it hasn’t gotten better — and that’s why they’re asking for support.
– “Don’t be so negative. Think happy thoughts.” Why? Because if it was that simple, depression wouldn’t exist. This statement implies that depression is a choice — which is false. You can’t just will or wish it away.