How To Help A Friend With Mental Health This Winter by Vicky from Miss Tilly and Me.
Mental & Physical Health Issues

How To Help A Friend With Mental Health This Winter

Today the lovely Vicky from Miss Tilly and Me is back with another fantastic post about mental health and how you can help out friends who are suffering this winter. 

Winter depression is a real thing, it's not someone having the blues or feel ing down. It is a real blown illness called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and it actually stops people from functioning in real life for all of the winter season.

Winter is pants anyway with the daylight changing and it throws us off for weeks as we try to adjust to the earlier evenings. We think its late at night and it's actually only 5.30 pm.

We long for the summer nights where we can be with friends and spend long evenings with people, instead we are stuck indoors because we don't want to go out in the cold and the weather isn't so nice either.

My social life changes a lot in the winter and you do get stuck in a rut, it gets to the point where you really don't want to see anyone and you feel isolated. So how can you help your friends this winter?

person sat with head in hands in a bathroom with pill bottles on the side

Keep In Touch – A phone call can really turn someones day around. Just because they don't want to go out, it doesn't mean they don't want to feel alone.

Even if your friend is down and sad at the start of the phone call, you can have a joke, laugh and remember things that you have done recently.

Picking up that phone to make a call when someone hasn't been in touch, means you are showing your friend that you care. They know that you are there for them.

They often won't pick up the phone to call you, because they feel so depressed, but knowing you are there for them will show them that you care.

Have Understanding – You might or you might not understand what they are going through, but you need to be there for your friend.

Depression turns you into someone that you are not and sometimes it makes you feel like you have failed everyone around you.

You feel like nobody cares and that makes you push people further away. I know this because I have been that friend that has pushed people away as well as the friend that has been pushed away.

Pushing people away, makes you feel guilty for a long time after you come out of your depressed state, but it's a coping mechanism because you don't want to drag people down to the level of depression that you are feeling.

Being the friend that is pushed away, is very hurtful, it feels like you are trying so hard to help your friend BUT you are not getting any help and being pushed away.

They really don't mean it and as soon as they feel better, they usually apologise for how they have been.

Take Your Friend Out – They won't want to go out of their house, the place that they feel the safest but you can make the world of difference to a person's day if you get them to come out.

Recently a friend invited me to lunch, but I was feeling depressed and I struggled to feel enthusiastic about going out.

I was so close to cancelling the whole day, but sheer determination made me take those few steps to go out the door and I had the most wonderful lunch date with her. But I look back and think about how it could easily have ended so differently.

Getting your friends out and about also means that they are getting out to some natural light, I know its still grim out there, but it is so much better than the lighting in your house.

Don't Let Them Slip Into Bad Habits – I am really bad for this, when I am having a depressing time, I start sleeping through the day.

It's not because I am tired, its because I want the day or days to pass in a blur. Sleep means that I can lose a few hours of the day, rather than sit and twiddle my fingers.

Food is always a bad one for me too, I can go to the shop around the corner and buy two share size bars of Cadbury chocolate and a Share size bag of crisps and sit and eat it all myself.

This isn't good for my weight, my mood or my enthusiasm, it might make me feel good for an hour or two but it can have longer consequences that I have to deal with.

This winter, I am following the Slimming world diet. So even when I want to eat, I am trying to eat healthily.

If I crave something sweet and need to binge, I will reach for a yoghurt. If I really need that chocolate fix, I will reach for a mini size chocolate bar.

I am also finding that changing my diet has made me more enthusiastic this winter.

person holding a piece of paper with a smile drawn on, mascara smudged around the eyes

When your friend is suffering like this, they often won't say anything because they don't want to worry you.

They will hide the depression and that will only fester inside of them. Sometimes, just being there is enough for them and means the world to them.

About the author: 

Vicky at suffers from depression and she writes about it quite alot, so please pop over and take a look.

Fancy checking out another post? Just click here!

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How To Help A Friend With Mental Health This Winter by Vicky from Miss Tilly and Me.

This article has 29 comments

  1. Amilia Nicholls

    Can relate to so many of these issues, thank you for being so candid.

  2. bev

    Great tips – I’ll keep these in mind.

  3. Laura Dove

    I have lived with depression for 22 years now and SAD is a huge part of that. I love that you are writing this in a bid to help others help their friends. I have very little support from my friends on this, its important to raise awareness so they know how to help!

  4. Candy

    We lived in Alaska and this was a thing during the winter. Doctor use to tell people to go to the tanning beds.

  5. Amber Myers

    I will keep this in mind for sure. I always like to help when I can. I let my friends know I’m there if they need me.

  6. Pam Wattenbarger

    These are great suggestions to help out with friends with SAD. It’s so important to check up on them to make sure they are okay.

  7. Brandy

    These are all great ways to help a friend with mental health issues this winter. I suffer from seasonal depression quite often, but this year hasn’t been too bad yet.

  8. Dennis Littley

    Very candid post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. It helps understanding both sides and gives some ideas for being supportive but not pushy.

  9. Kathy

    This is such a wonderful post. I love that you wrote about this. It can be tough helping out others. You’ve got a lot of great info and tips to help those with mental health. I have a few friends/family members who I could probably help out too.

  10. kita

    It’s tough in the winter I think for me its harder to be surrouded by people because everyone tends to stay in. This is a great article and this topic needs to be talked about

  11. Gervin Khan

    This is such a very interesting post that I’ve encounter so far but I’m grateful that there are still people like this that will help their friend no matter what they are in. I’m very proud of you and hope you stay that way. Thank you for this incredible and wonderful story of friendship.

  12. Tim B

    An important topic to keep in mind this time of year. So important not to stigmatize it and be supportive. As well as be alert to if you are being impacted yourself. Thanks for bringing this matter to the forefront of people’s attention!

  13. Hannah

    I think this is so important. I have a friend who suffers so I always give her a message every now and then to see how she’s doing.

  14. Karen

    Keeping in touch is the perfect way to help… and in person is what helps a lot. We are all so “connected” (yet not really) via social media we sometimes forget to talk on the phone or pop over to visit in person. Makes a major difference.

  15. Rebecca | AAUBlog

    What a great post to highlight something that is so very real at this time of year. I know I need to look out for my close friends much more x

  16. Beth

    A few people that I love suffer from anxiety and depression. I really appreciate these suggestions.

  17. Cherri Megasko

    This can sometimes be very hard, but it is so worth it. I have two friends who struggle with depression. They never answer my texts or emails, but I just keep sending them anyway to make sure they always know there are people who care.

  18. Lynndee

    Calling them or sending them messages is definitely a good thing to do. I have a friend who suffered from depression so I can relate.

  19. Terri Steffes

    I am a self diagnosed SAD person but I love all these tips to help yourself! Thank you, I’m eager to give them a go.

  20. riks

    These are great tips! So many people I know suffer from depression. It’s very common and we need to raise awareness about it.

  21. Rachael

    These are good tips – I like the first one about keeping in contact. I sometimes really, really, realllly do not want to go out, but I still really want to chat to my friends!

  22. Shannon Gurnee

    Sometimes people forget how difficult the holidays are for others. These are some great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  23. Jacqueline Allum

    A very thoughtful approach. I’ve suffered from SAD for nearly 20 years and sometimes you do just want friends and family to instinctively know how to help. Not going to happen unless we say something. It is difficult. Thanks for this.

  24. Andrea Dimmick

    My husband had a breakdown last year, hoping to wean off the meds next month, he also joined The Mens Shed and that has helped such a lot.

  25. Susie Wilkinson

    Depression is such a hard thing to explain, my colleague, who says she’s had bouts of depression seems to have no understanding at all and has accused another colleague of skiving when they really weren’t well.
    I’m always known as the office clown, but in truth I’m often dying inside, having suffered from clinical depression, anxiety and mild ASD since childhood, I go home and curl up in the duvet with my dog and cry for hours, then put the mask back on next morning. It’s the way I’ve always ‘coped’, but it’s so hard at times, I just wish people would recognise it the same as a physical illness………

  26. Anonymous

    This is such a great post. Knowing how to be there for the people most important in your life is so important!

  27. Iris Tilley

    We need more people out there willing to help Depression is deep rooted and only patience and calm can help us.

  28. Chloe T

    A great blog post spreading awareness of mental health & the difficulties it causes. I’ve been battling anorexia for 4 years now, and i’ve had a rough time, with one hospital admission in 2017. Winter is always very hard for me because of the focus around food at christmas. I’ve had great support from my family & friends xx

  29. Fiona jk42

    Great post. The one thing I’d say is if you are a friend of someone who suffers from mental health issues, don’t give up on them. Maybe you ask them out, and they say No because they don’t feel up to it that day. Ask them out again another time. Even if they say No on several occasions, at some point they will be able to go out, and will appreciate that you didn’t drop them because they would not go out with you.

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