5 Ways to Help a Friend in Crisis

Most of us have had a friend who has had some emotional crisis.  Hopefully family and friends (like you) have helped them find ways to maintain their life and receive assistance sorting out their stressful issues.  Many times those closest to the person in crisis feel helpless because they just do not know what to do.  Here are five great ways to help your friend get through to the other side.

  1. Just go out for a walk.  Have you noticed the power of being outside?  Here in NYC it can be hard to really commune with nature, but being out in the fresh air and looking up at the sky can really help a person who is struggling.  Depending on how they are doing you can go to Central Park, the zoo, the High Line, or walk around the quiet of Battery Park early on a Sunday morning. Let them guide the discussion and direction or just accompany them in their silence.  Remind them of hope, their own strength and that you are there for them.
  2. Cook a meal.  When I work with post-partum moms here in the city, there can sometimes be no better help than a home cooked meal.  Find out what the like to eat, if there are any dietary restrictions, and of course if they have any favorites.  Not a gourmet chef yourself, well then splurge and order from their favorite restaurant!
  3. Take their kids for a few hours or an overnight.  If your friend or loved one is struggling, they need some rest, and usually taking care of children leaves no time to reflect or have a quiet mind.  Make plans to take their children so they can get the alone time they need.
  4. Give them space.  You may feel the need to be a constant voice and fill your friend or loved one with the hope that activity and companionship will make them feel better.  While it is true some people do not want to be left alone, others crave space and solitude.  Of course, we do not want to see those who are struggling spend all day in bed, but they may need some time on the sofa watching a great movie by themselves.
  5. Do not try to solve their problems, in fact that can make matters far worse.  You can not just cheer up a depressed person if their relationship has ended.  If a friend is in debt, money may not be their only problem.  If they regularly feel overwhelmed do not swoop in and take over their to-do list.  Again, offer support but do not try to save them.

Many of my patients here in New York City suffer with depression and/or anxiety.  Sometimes they feel as if they have no one to talk to, so just knowing you are there for them can make all the difference in the world.

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