To start I'll give a bit of background on where I am coming from. I'm about to turn 20 and I have been going to therapy for the past four years. Along with weekly counseling I have been on and off of antidepressants for that time. My depression stems from what started my parents' divorce and molded into a feeling of uselessness and being unwanted, never able to live up to the expectations and eventually hating myself for it. As I write this I am still doing therapy and taking meds for my illness.
Hopefully, by being open about myself you won't simply brush this off as irrelevant and coming from someone who hasn't been where you have been.
To give a brief synopsis of what I'm going to be sharing; this is my take on how I would like to be supported by both friends and family.
1. Give them space.
One of the hardest parts about being depressed is that everyone is constantly worried about you. When my parents found out it was overbearing to be asked every hour if I was feeling alright. In my experience, a large portion of my depression has been a battle with myself mentally. When given the space and time to try and work my own problems out I'd be less upset than when people were constantly checking on me.
2. Don't ask for details.
This is more for parents then friends, however, may apply if you are very close to someone. If it is known that your friend/child is depressed and actively seeking help like therapy they will likely not talk to you and only get annoyed. Personally, I have a therapist to talk to every week. Someone I know can legally not tell anyone what I tell them. Someone who I can be open with and not worry about judgment. As much as you might tell someone that you won't judge them it is still a huge fear. To be looked at in a pitiful way. One of the worst parts of people knowing you are depressed is that they look at you with sympathy in their eyes. All I've wanted is to be treated just like everyone else. If your friend/child is not seeing a therapist then the best option would be to consistently recommend that they get one. It may seem redundant but eventually, they might be inclined to just try it out.
3. Don't take things personally
Nothing you have said or done has caused the person you care about to be depressed. That being said it isn't uncommon for someone who is depressed to be more on edge and lash out at those around them. Sometimes the only thing that we can think of to be happy is bringing others down to our level of misery. Even if we don't apologize we still feel guilty about our actions. However, sometimes admitting something that you did was wrong is difficult to do. By admitting the faults in ourselves we expose more of ourselves that can be hurt.
4. Just be there.
When left alone our thoughts run wild. It's often when I am by myself that I truly think about how awful life is and fully let my depression take over. This task doesn't require being with someone 24/7 but it is important to invite them to do things, hang out with them, and just be around so that even if it isn't vocal and they aren't opening up to you, they know that if it ever gets to the point they can be able to talk to you.
I sincerely hope that this has helped you out in friendships with people suffering from depression. Hopefully, they won't feel like such a burden to you.