The first thing you need to do is stop judging a depressed person, and stop coaching them how positive thinking and going out can cure them. This point is actually more about you and less about them. See, Depression is a disease where you need to patiently listen to the patient and understand why exactly is he depressed before helping him. Unlike Fever or even Tuberculosis, Depression varies from patient to patient because every brain is different, and every thought process distinct. Even after understanding -and I mean really understanding and not pretending to listen- helping a depressed person means just listening to them and letting them know with small actions that whatever happens, you are there for them. That feeling of support and the perpetual company goes a long way instead of meaningless and standardized lectures about how their lifestyle and attitude is stopping them from getting better. Giving more stress to a patient doesn’t help, believe me.
Reminisce about the Past
Talking about the glorious past and becoming nostalgic over a cup of coffee or tea is something introverts love to do. If your friend has suddenly become an introvert from an extrovert or in case of an introvert gone further into his/her shell, it is time for some drastic measures. In a disease like depression, more time a person spends alone more the negative thoughts and the feeling of doom shall increase. To help them combat this feeling like a friend, you can just try talking about the past. Instead of conversing about their disease and reminding them what a horrible place they are in currently, try telling them about the great times you had when in school, how they won a declamation competition out of nowhere, and how happy they were when they found their first love. All those happy memories will help to inculcate happiness in their mind and heart again. It will help them not only psychologically but also physically.
Talk about the Future
Though talking about the good times you had in the past is essential, pairing it with the endless possibilities of the future is also quite necessary. One of the most harmful effects of Depressions is that it destroys the positive thinking capacity of a man. Day in and day out, he thinks that his future is on a dark path, and the bad time he is having will only get worse with time. Pair the glorious moments of the past with the good times they could have in the future. These things can be as small as the upcoming marriage of their cousin where they’ll meet their family, a comedy concert that you’re taking them to, or their favorite band coming into town. After all, what is life but a series of happy moments strung together with each other?
I’m not talking about practical jokes. The last thing a depressed person needs is more humiliation. What they need, however, is your support, and you can give it to them by surprising them with a gift or outing every now and then. Just make sure that you introduce the idea of an outing gradually, giving them time to warm up to the idea. Surprise gifts are always welcome, and for a depressed person, even a book or a personalized cup goes a long way. They don’t care whether your present is cheap or expensive. What matters is the realization that people around them are there to support them, and they are not alone as their disease would have them think.
Chill Out at Home
Introverts have different ideas of chilling than extroverts. A depressed person prefers to be at home because even if their den of remorse is sad and stresses them further, it feels far better than going outdoors with strangers where anything might happen. As a friend, instead of making outdoor programs which you like, try to make some plans that they might like and go to their home. Try to make their room a little more welcoming and cheery by just talking to them and preparing lavish food for them. Depression has to be combated from inside out, and only when you make your friend comfortable on the inside is when they’ll come out to play with you. Who knows, they might even feel better.