Depression is a complicated illness. It's difficult to understand, but even more difficult to watch someone you care about go through such an unsure time in their life. Therefore, I've complied a list of things you can do to "help".
1. Let them know you're there, but don't be overbearing.
This is just as confusing for you as it is for them, often times they can't even explain why they're sad, they just know they are. Therefore, letting them know you're there can be helpful, but don't hover because they want to figure out what's going on in their head, which is already troublesome enough without someone constantly bothering them about it.
2. Make sure they know it's not their fault.
It's just something some people go through. It's no ones fault really, there are triggers but it's never one person individually. People like to point the finger, it's an obvious fact, however; with something like this, there's no real finger to point. Just make them aware that it's not their own fault.
3. Offer hugs and a shoulder to cry on.
Sometimes telling them you're there isn't sufficient, so show them. Actions speak louder than words, always remember that.
4. They may want to be alone, but that's not always their best option.
Even if it's just sitting there in silence, misery loves company. So on the days they can't get out of their bed, just go get in their bed with them.
5. If it gets serious, encourage them to get help.
They're not alone, but until you expose them to others that are suffering from the same things they are, they'll believe they're alone. There are certain cases where you can't help no matter how hard or try, or how much you do, in those cases, go to an adult or parent. Before you go to anyone like that, make sure you know as many details as possible about the situation and about the extent they're going to.
6. Going off of point 5, make sure they know they're not alone.
People get sad sometimes, and sometimes it takes time, but you need to be their positivity since they don't have any right now. Tell them a joke, or just make it your goal to make them smile at least once a day.
7. Make them a mixed CD with some songs that they can't help but sing along to.
Proven to be very successful by me, mixed CD's are already undoubtedly genuine, they show how much you care and can be unquestionably thoughtful.
8. Bring them ice cream and their favorite snacks or food.
Often times when people are depressed, they forget to eat, or just have no appetite, so bringing them their favorite can usually perk them up a little and awaken their tummy.
9. Try and get them out of the bed, but don't force it.
Invite them to go to dinner or just to come over to your house, just so they get a change of pace. But if they're not feeling it, assure them it's okay and offer to stay there instead.
10. More than anything, be a friend.
It's a rough patch in an amazing life, reassure them of that. Send them something positive everyday to start to put them back into a positive mindset.
Depression can be overwhelming, but by doing these things you can offer the support and attention your friend may need.