Boiled down to the core, distress is usually caused by one or more of the following: Low self esteem, high self criticism, poor coping skills, inadequate social support, negative affect (stress, depression, anxiety), history of trauma, or chrionic health problems.
While it’s natural and admirable to want to help a friend when they are suffering, you have to make sure you yourself are feeling good. The more positive you feel as a helper, the more effective you can be!
A major thing to keep in mind when trying to help a friend, is that change is incremental. For example, just because you have one conversation with someone about their drinking problem, doesn’t mean that they’re going to stop drinking all together or seek help then and there. Respect your friend enough to allow them to change at their own pace and in their own way.
Your job as a helper is to let the person know you love and support them, even as they struggle, you’re there to listen and support. You’re worried because you care; let your caring be more important than your worry. It is also your job to raise awareness of the available resources and refer your friend to them as needed. It is also your job to take care of yourself so that you can be mentally and physically strong enough to support your friend during their time of need.