They don’t always want to do this alone.
Many often assume people dealing with depression want to just be left alone. While there are may be times when they want their space, this doesn’t mean they want to face their fears completely alone. Offer to take them on a drive somewhere. Ask if they want to get coffee or a meal. One on one time where you can bring them out of their routine and where you two can connect can often mean everything for them. Reach out to them unexpectedly. Remind them they don’t have to do this alone.
Try not to compare your experiences with theirs.
When someone is going through a rough time we often want to share with them our own stories to let them know you’ve gone through something similar and can relate with their struggle. When you say something like, “oh yeah, this one time I was depressed too…” it only makes them feel like you’re minimizing their pain. Express empathy but don’t suppress their feelings. The greatest resource you can share with your friend is your ability to listen. That’s all they really need.
It’s okay to ask your friend where they are in their feelings.
How are they really feeling and how are they coping with their depression? Suicidal thoughts are a common occurrence for depressed people and it’s okay to directly ask them ways they’re practicing self-care and to come up with a safety plan for times when their depression becomes too overwhelming.
Schedule time to spend together.
Offer to spend time with them once or twice a week to exercise, grocery shop, or hang out together. Ask if you can cook dinner with them and plan a friend date. One of the hardest parts of depression is feeling too exhausted to cook healthy meals, so you can really help them out by cooking food they can store in their fridge or freezer for a later time.