How to Help When Friends or Family have Depression

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 Someone with Depression

    • Listen. Keep in mind that the person with depression isn’t communicating well right now, and is probably speaking slower and less clearly. Be patient and don’t interrupt. Don’t be judgmental.
Image: The Favourite Poet by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
The Favourite Poet by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
    • 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).
    • 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, or take them to the emergency room if the threat is imminent. Questions you want to ask that will help the doctor determine the severity of the suicidal thoughts and feelings are:
    • Are you thinking about dying?
    • Are you thinking about hurting yourself?
    • Are you thinking about suicide?
    • Have you thought about how you would do it?
    • Do you know when you would do it?
    • Do you have the means to do it?
  • 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.


  • 10 Ways to Help Someone Who's Depressed
  • 5 Things to Do (And Not Do) to Support Someone With Depression
  • A Teenager's Guide to Depression: Tips and Tools for Helping Yourself or a Friend
  • Best Things to Say to Someone Who is Depressed
  • Depression Fallout
  • Families for Depression Awareness
  • Helping a Depressed Friend or Family Member
  • Helping a Depressed Person
  • 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 Someone You Love is Depressed
  • What to Do When Your Partner is Depressed
  • Worst Things to Say to Someone Who is Depressed

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    1. These are some great tips for helping someone with depression. My brother has been struggling with this ever since our dad died. I’ll be sure to start doing some research to learn more about it, like you said.

    2. My friend is depressed nowadays, but she stays in another country. She is already having suicidal thoughts, and her parents are not understanding how grave this situation is. How shall I help?

    3. Thanks so much for such a helpful post, I found it interesting and I’m sure it will enable many to take action to help those they know with depression. I also agree that it is so important to look after oneself whilst assisting someone who has depression. The advice to know when to quick is also extremely important as many will find they get sucked deeper and deeper into a black hole and can become depressed themselves. Thanks again!

    4. Hi, I feel really helpless. My best friend is depressed and he thinks that that is enough and he should end his life. I don’t know what to do and i am very afraid. I don’t know what to say i am always afraid to say wrong things and then he will push me away !!!

    5. My boyfriend won’t admit he needs to see a Dr for Depression and be put on a light anti-depressant .. he is to the point where he could lose his job…he complains about everything..EVERYTHING!! WORRIES ABOUT EVERYTHING… SAID HE FEELS HELPLESS … UNHAPPY…DOESN’T WANT TO GO AND DO ANYTHING FUN… HOPELESS … SLEEP TROUBLE… APPETITE HAS CHANGED… HIS TONE OR VOICE IS MONO-TONE…

      ***WHAT DO I DO NEXT????:

    6. It’s appropriate time to make a few plans for the future and it’s time to be happy.
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    7. Hi,
      Reading this article really made my jaw drop. Everything you’ve described is right on point. I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for the past year and a half and am a first year college student so it’s very tough at times when I don’t have any willingness to go and do anything.

      I think the hardest part of this struggle and having to deal with it is the impact on other people. I constantly feel like I am a burden on others and am just worthless and they don’t understand what I’m thinking or going through sometimes. I always get asked if I’m okay, and sometimes it gets exhausting, if I’m not always up and excited people become concerned. I’m a very introverted quiet person to begin with and sometimes I get tired of keeping this “act” of being so laughable and whatnot.

      I have been seeing a therapist for a year now and that has been helping tremendously considering I was ready to end it all last year. I still have my down days but I’m learning to love life. It does get tough but, I have learned that keeping a diary and being mindful of all my emotions and feelings throughout the day and keeping note was important.

    8. Hi,

      Im just looking for some answers regarding depression. My dad has had it for a long time, before i can even remember. But recently, my now recently ex was struggling with depression because of stress at uni etc.. we were in a pretty good relationship for 2 years, things started to get rocky once she started taking seraltine i think it was called which caused a rift between us. there was no more physical contact like that or even kissing etc. i tried to tell myself that i didnt mind, to try and understand what she was going through but one day she ended up breaking up with me over the phone out of nowhere saying she didnt want to be in a relationship anymore. she completely cut me off after that.. wouldnt answer the phone wouldnt txt me back wouldnt even see me not once and havent since a month ago. im just looking for answers, i go to therapy but i just dont know how it went downhill without me even seeing it coming. if anyone has any ways i can cope or knows what im going through please help me find a way to move on because at the moment its killing me :/

    9. My elder sister passed away, met with an accident? how do i get out of this? give me some tips to engage myself, do i need a therapist.. i dont need a doc.

      1. Hey sakshi,I can understand the pain of losing someone but you need to understand that you have to move on,you should try to find your hobbies and you should spend your time enjoying life and talking and playing with your friends and try to do some things which you have not done yet which you want to do.Your sister is watching you and she wants you to be happy,she does not want to see you sad and depressed when you think about her.Your happiness will give her peace.

    10. My daughter is so depressed she won’t talk to anyone or do anything. She is going to be homeless in a few days. The family has tried everything we can think of to help her, but she just won’t cooperate. None of the family the funds to help her or any room to keep her. We are at our wit’s end. Any suggestions. we are desparate.

      1. Hi! Not sure this too late as you made the post awhile ago. I was with my boyfriend for three years & he had gone through a really bad time of depression before I had met him, he even admitted to having suicidal thoughts. When we were together, it was obvious that his motivation for.. well life in general was not there. Thats when I had approached him and he admitted to still being depressed. I had stayed with him for a few years and I tried motivating him, helping him, encouraging him to seek help… but then I started to notice that his depression was beginning to affect me and drain me. Eventually I had to let him go in a sense that we are no longer in a relationship, however, I am still here for him if he needs me. I have moved on because at some point you have to start caring for yourself, too. What I’m trying to say is that if you’ve done all you believe you could have for your daughter, then just let her know that despite the fact that you’re letting her go, that you’ll always be there for her. The worst thing is to up and leave someone who is depressed making them feel completely alone. Hope this helped!

      2. Hi Betty – I just ran across your post. My daughter sounds just like you described yours. Were you able to break through to her, and if so, how? I hope things are better for her and the family by now.