Depression: How to Help When Friends or Family are Depressed

Image: The Favourite Poet by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

The Favourite Poet by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema

When someone you know is depressed, it’s understandable if you feel helpless. If you’ve never suffered from clinical depression, how are you going to know what to say and do, or how it feels?

Ways to Help a Depressed Person

  • Listen. Keep in mind that the depressed person isn’t communicating well right now, and is probably speaking slower and less clearly. Be patient and don’t interrupt.
  • Take care of little tasks like feeding the cat or doing the laundry. (This suggestion applies if you don’t live with the person. If you do live with the person, you probably have to take on all the tasks).
  • Along those lines, remember that the depressed person is not being lazy. Think of when you’re really sick and you can barely get out of bed to go to the bathroom. That’s how a depressive can feel all the time.
  • Learn everything you can about depression. Knowledge is power and understanding.
  • Take it seriously if the person talks about suicide. Call their doctor for advice on what to do.
  • Encourage the individual to get professional help for depression if he or she is resisting.
  • If the individual has already started treatment, make sure the depressive is keeping doctor appointments and taking his or her medication.

Ways to Help Yourself

  • Take care of yourself. Depression can be “contagious.” Get out and do something for yourself alone.
  • Recognize that your feelings of anger, frustration and helplessness are valid. Talk to a therapist for help in dealing with them.
  • If you are in a sexual relationship with this person, don’t take it personally if they have lost interest in sex. Sexual drive is one of the first things to go when you’re depressed. Offer hugging and cuddling without an expectation of sex.
  • Know when to let go. After a certain point, especially if the depressed person is not getting help or taking their medicine, there’s nothing you can do. You have to move on with your own life.


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  • How Family and Friends Can Help
  • How to Help Someone who is Depressed
  • How to know if someone is clinically depressed
  • If You Know Someone Who's Depressed
  • Loving Someone with Depression - Literally, Darling
  • The Purple Elephant in the Room: Talking to Someone with Depression
  • What to Do When a Friend is Depressed: A Guide for Teenagers
  • What to Do When Someone You Love is Depressed
  • What to Do When Your Partner is Depressed
  • 5 thoughts on “Depression: How to Help When Friends or Family are Depressed

    1. Dealing with depression is so hard especially when growing up, sometimes you just don’t want to do anything at all but sleep or lock yourself in your room but depression affects people differently. There are ways to be victorious over depression.

    2. I would suggest that if a person is talking about suicide, it’s probably best to ask questions to determine whether or not the person is in immediate danger of killing themselves. Questions such as “Have you made a plan to kill yourself?” might shed some light on the immediate state of the person. If the person is suicidal it’s not a good idea to wait and “call their doctor”. The best move would be to enlist emergency services to protect the persons life.

    3. Pingback: How to Help Someone Who is Depressed | Power of Mind Counselling Blog

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