Depression is a mood disorder that causes someone to feel persistently sad for a long time. It is a serious condition that drains a person's energy, optimism, and motivation. 

Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people, from young to old, your regular friends around you to the celebrities you see on TV, and from all levels of life. 

According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria is Africa’s most depressed country already, with 7,079,815 cases reported. Compare to Ethiopia (4,480,113), Democratic Republic of Congo (2,871,309), South Africa (2,402,230) and Tanzania (2,138,939) people reported having been diagnosed with the condition.

A few days ago, a close friend of mine disclosed to me that she was depressed at some point and I didn't know. I mean, she looks so happy with no sign of depression. This means that some people can be depressed without any obvious sign of it. Like the celebrities on TV.

For instance, popular gospel musician, Tasha Cobbs opened up to Essence about living with depression. She was quoted to have said, "in 2007 when I was the worship pastor at my church. I had been leading our worship ministry for about four or five years and throughout those years I would go to church, hug everybody, smile in everybody’s face, kiss babies, etc.

I could get up and sing and watch people be delivered and set free and experience freedom in their lives, and yet I would go home and be under the covers, with the curtains closed, not eating, never coming out of my room for days at a time. My cousin Shaniqua—who was my roommate at the time—knew the routine: We would come home from church. I would get undressed, put on something huge and lay in the bed and stay there – for days. This time I had been in bed for three or four days and I hadn’t left my room. The house was completely dark; curtains closed, and the sadness was so heavy in that house that she literally moved out and moved into my pastor’s house for that week because it was just too heavy for her.

Under those covers, I would tell myself things like, ‘Nobody wants you, they only want you for your gifts; they only want you for your talents. People only want you for what you have to offer but nobody is giving back to you.’ Of course, it was all untrue. I had so many people around me who loved me, but for some reason, I was stuck in this place of rejection where no matter how good I am or how much I do, or how much I offer, it felt like it wasn’t enough. I would cry for hours. Sometimes I wouldn’t even know why I was crying. It was just a heaviness that comes over you that you just cannot explain."

So many people around us are stressed out, frustrated, depressed, and I've wondered: How do you actually help someone with depression. If a person living with depression open up to you, what should the follow-up texts and phone calls look like to make the person feel better and not worse? 

It is hard to know what to say when speaking to a depressed person. Your words might make them angry, feel insulted, or bring them comfort, hope and eventually bring them out of the state of depression. 

How Can I Help Someone Overcome Depression? 

Put Yourself In Their Shoes: Putting yourself in someone else's shoes is about compassion. Take yourself out of the picture. Let go of your thoughts, opinion, feelings, reactions, etc. while focusing deeply on what the other person is saying. 

Be A Compassionate Listener: You probably have heard of this technique. Always remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You don't have to try to fix the person, you just have to be a good listener to understand how best you can help. 

Help To Get Help: While you can't control someone else's recovery from depression, you can start by encouraging the depressed person to seek help. 

Be Gentle, Yet Persistent: Don't expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent. Don't try to rescue a depressed person. It's not up to you to fix the person, nor can you. Recovery is in the hands of the depressed person.