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Don’t Ignore These Worrying Signs That a Friend Needs Help

Friendship through thick and thin
Sometimes the best thing to do is to help your friend is simply to listen to them. Photo via Pexels, CC0.

It’s a simple fact of life that you’re going to spend some of your time worrying about your friends. That makes a fair amount of sense as, after all, you care deeply about your friends, and the last thing you want is for something to happen to them. Most of the time this is going to take the form of things like stress from work and other relatively minor things. If that’s the case, then you’ll usually be able to have a chat with them over a cup of coffee and let them vent their frustrations to you. However, there are also going to be occasions where things are a little more serious than that. Sometimes the problems that your friend is facing might be something that has you genuinely concerned. This can often be an incredibly difficult situation to deal with but here are a few simple things that you can do in order to help and support a friend who’s going through something difficult.

Talk to them

The first thing that you need to do if you’re really worried about a friend is to simply talk to them. Sometimes it might simply be a case that things aren’t as bad as you thought and you don’t actually have to worry that much. If you were right and there is something wrong then you’re going to be able to help them talk it through and figure out what kinds of solutions they need to get through it. Of course, it’s incredibly important to remember that it’s not necessarily your job to fix their problems. Sometimes, all someone really needs is for you to listen to them. This is especially true when someone is dealing with mental health issues. If someone is going through a period of depression then they don’t need you to tell them how to fix it, they often just need to get it out of their system. It can be tough to do this since most of us are programmed to want to fix problems when they present themselves, but just listening to someone can often be the best possible way of supporting them.

Help them find professional support

Seek professional help with your friend's consent
If your friend needs serious help, you can assist him or her with finding a mental health professional to escape a dangerous situation. Pixabay, CC0 license.

Of course, there is always the chance that the help that your friend needs is more serious than the kind that you can offer. When this is the case, it can often be hard for someone to take that first step towards asking for some professional help. If you want to help and support your friend, then you can help to guide them in the right direction and offer to be there for them along that road. Whether it’s getting in touch with an addiction treatment center, helping them make an appointment with a doctor to talk about their mental health, or putting them in contact with the authorities to escape a dangerous or abusive situation, there’s plenty that you can do to support your friend in getting the help that they really need. It’s important to only do these things with your friend’s consent unless you’re genuinely worried that they are putting themselves in some kind of serious danger.

Remind them that they’re not alone

When someone is dealing with something difficult, be it depression, addiction or anything else, it can be an incredibly isolating experience for them. If you really want to help them, then it can be good to make sure that they know that they’re not alone. They might feel as though they need to push people away or that they don’t deserve any care and support. As their friend, you can let them know that you’ll be there for them no matter what. Knowing that someone else is in their corner can often be an incredible boost to anyone who is struggling with something difficult in their life. Feeling less alone can give them the strength to make a change in their life or to get the help that they need. It might seem like a little touch but it really can make all the difference in the world.

Offer distractions

Getting outdoors helps keep self-pity at bay
Distract your friend. Get this loved one outside to help keep them from falling too far into the abyss of self-pity. Image via Pexels, CC0.

When they’re going through something difficult or unpleasant, it can often be all too easy for someone to begin to wallow in self-pity. Not only is this not helpful but it can actually lead to some pretty dangerous cycles of self-destruction. As their friend, you can help to break that cycle by offering them distractions from their wallowing. Even something as simple as being there to watch TV with them or have a chat can help them get out of their own head for long enough that they can begin to make a genuine change in their life. Dealing with things like addiction or depression can also cause people to want to stay inside all of the time, and you can help them to get out into the world again. Even if it’s just taking a walk around the block together, being able to get them up and about can help to reorient their mind away from the cycles of self-pity that many people end up getting themselves into.

In many of these occasions, people tend to worry that they’re overreacting and won’t bother trying to talk to their friend about it. Do not do this! If you’re even the slightest bit worried about a friend, then the very best thing that you can do is to talk to them and make sure that everything is okay. Sure, these kinds of conversations can be pretty tough a lot of the time, but it’s always better to offer help when you feel like someone needs it than to second guess yourself and ignore it. That being said, it’s also incredibly important to remember that you might not always be in a position to solve your friend’s problems, especially if you’re going through a tough time yourself. Remember, there’s no shame in having to step away and focus on yourself for a little while. Not only that but it’s always a good idea to ask for help if you really need it.

33 thoughts on “Don’t Ignore These Worrying Signs That a Friend Needs Help”

  1. Hi Christy! I am so behind on your posts! This is a great topic, and one that you’ve covered in depth. I think so many of us forget to actually ‘talk’ face to face with our friends, especially those that are busy with family and kids. Face time isn’t enough, it’s so different to being there in person talking to them! The connection you feel is vastly different. A good distraction like a holiday together always does the job! Xx

  2. Depression is tricky – it’s an inside job. The best thing to do sometimes is to be there, but also – and i have a depressive partner – offer a gentle solution. The dog lead in our case. It sounds silly but getting moving is often a great antidote to depression… great post.

  3. Such an important article you’ve written, dear Christy. It’s sometimes difficult to know what to say or do when a friend is in emotional distress. Beautifully and tactfully addressed. ❤️

  4. It is so true. And mainly for friends who just need help in silence. Just be like their shadow ensuring they do not do something after being overwhelmed with emotions.

  5. Sometimes all that a person needs is someone to listen to them. Friends that care about us are so important, we need to have friendships deeper than just partying. Making someone feel that they are not alone, they are special, they are important and loved is one of the best things one can do for someone going through mental issue. Loved your post

  6. Help them selfs find proffesional help and the other one you said was distraction, that’s what I need to overcome addiction. The problem is that I don’t have close friends, all the so called friends are involved in nothing good to say the least. So is only up to me to fight and fight every day to stay sober. Not easy by the way.

  7. Very very true! I have to admit, I am guilty of not noticing this in a very close friend of mine – I wasn’t aware such state of mind can exist. Very important to understand and support!

  8. As long as they want your help that is too. Sometimes, they also just need a loving and gentle “get a grip” (when it is not life threatening of course). My best friend did that for me a few years ago, and it was the best thing she could have done. I changed my life because of it.

  9. Amazing! Your headline, “… a Friend Needs Help” caught m attention. I’m glad to know that as busy as I am, I still care to help a friend in need. Lovely post!

  10. Lovely post: I know these words come from the heart because I know you’re one of those folks who is a true friend to anyone you consider a friend. Your words here demonstrate caring and love and this is one of the reasons that you are so awesome. And friendship can fill someone’s cup when they desperately need a companion in those moments of weakness. Powerful post!

  11. These are excellent points, Christy. But naturally I’m wondering where the option is to give them a kitty! 🤔 Did you know petting a kitty relieves stress? And sometimes the best reminder for our Humans that they’re not alone is us. Also, I think I’m a very good listener. Just saying Christy. Just saying..

  12. I think that reminding them that they are not alone is so very important! Mental health is not talked about enough and comes with a ‘weakness’ label that is totally unjustified! If your friend doesn’t want to go to the doctors there are lots of charities/websites you could look at together as a starting point. Sorry for my rant, it’s a topic I am passionate about.
    – Hannah

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