I've long been fascinated by the approaches in ministry to those who are prone to discouragement or despair, and recently my interest has increased due to people I'm close to having that difficulty; neither am I without a similar temptation. I sense that mostly what those people want is simply someone to listen sympathetically and to quietly absorb the negativity. Which makes sense: does not God do this for each of us? They instruct us pastorally by upfront saying something like "don't tell me to 'buck up' or that I should be grateful or to 'get over it'". And certainly even though we are the cause of most of our problems, we tend to bristle at being told that.
I feel particularly powerless in one situation with regard to a friend who is out of work. He won't take charity and he doesn't want to take on a loan and is in danger of losing his house. Here is someone with legimate troubles; he's not bellyachin' about the weather. He's got a history of depression in the family. He is vulnerable and all I seem to be able to do is listen to him and pray for him. (Your prayers appreciated btw.)