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. I only came here because I really want my boyfriend to understand what he can do to help me… But it gets worse every day, no matter how much he helps… I think about suicide literally every day. I can’t enjoy sex or our hobbies. We used to play video games together, but if I don’t do well, I’ll just cry and we can’t really play them anymore. I’ve lost interest in our anime and our shows. I don’t want to leave the house to go out. It’s ruining our relationship, and it’s my fault…

      So I have advice for people who are trying their best to help depressed people and can’t. I really think he ought to let me go… I wouldn’t blame him. Sometimes, you really just can’t help, even if you do all of these things…

      1. Please hang in there sweetheart. My loved one struggled for many years and making our lives very painful. BUT I love and care for him. He said painful things and told me to find someone else as we were not compatible etc. He would not even talk to me or want outside help. My only help is to seek God, my last resort. Have you heard Joel Osteen or Joyce Myer? They are quite good. Praying for you

    2. my brother is suffering from sever depression and has atempted suicide and says he will do it again. he’s on an anti-depressants but he’s still very angry and lashesout at everyone. He tells us that he doesn’t want to get better because he’s not sick he’s just a failure and a weak person who wants to die and he should be able to kill himself in peace. he has erratic sleep patterns, barely eats and almost never leaves his room. and if he does leave his room it’s with plenty of complaint. he’s been like this for close to a year now and has no job, not going to school, and no girlfriend. He goes to the therapist and takes his medicine to make my mom happy and makes that clear to everyone. I just don’t know what to do. I’m so afraid he’s going to kill himself.

      1. Hi Jessica,I think you should try to help your brother realize that he can help people who also
        think of doing suicide,he can save their lives. Then he may understand that he is not useless and he has a future and his life is important.

    3. My daughter has been diagnosed with depression she has talked to me a bit but when I hear crying on the phone at night it’s heartbreaking. When I ask her if I can help she tells me to go away. What should I do?

      1. Hi Jane,I think that you should try to spend more time with your daughter doing the things that she likes and you should try to complete her hobbies then you should tell her that she can talk to you about anything and you will try your best to understand her and solving her problems.

    4. I’m struggling right now. my husband and I both suffer from chronic depression, bipolar disorder, social anxiety. his episodes are VERY emotionally draining. we’ve been together 15yrs. and it has gotten worse over the years. of course I want to help him feel better, but it’s very difficult as I too suffer and tend to focus more on him, but lately I just don’t have the energy to deal with anything.he has no insurance so isn’t medicated, this makes it even more difficult. I don’t have anyone to talk to about this or even know what to do anymore. comments welcome

      1. Hi Steph,I think that you and your husband should try to join some sports club or yoga classes or something in which you are interested like music,dance,art etc. where both of you can make some friends,you can talk to them,you can enjoy your life which will help you in getting out of stress and depression.

      2. I feel depressed a lot I don’t want to go down town any more the shops change a lot for me I get the past a lot now I don’t think people around me are real any more or my family.

    5. have a depress person in a situation where they feel in control, needed, or where they can share things that they enjoy or they have some kind of experience of expertise.

      For example, having a depress people help another depress people like what this site is doing.

    6. My mum recently split from my dad. Every one was so surprised because they seemed so solid. She has now resorted to smoking, I’m afraid she will end up being depressed just like my dad. I would be glad to have any advice if anyone has been through something similar.

      1. Hi sammy,you should tell your mum that she is not alone,she have your full support in everything and you will be always there for her.Try to spend more time with your mother enjoying her hobbies and tell her that it is not the end of her life and she should try to make new friends and find a new partner.You should also help her finding new hobbies and doing those things that she wanted to do and she had not done yet.

      1. Hello you can talk with me anytime you wish to. I might not be the best adviser but I can listen to your problems. Feel free and I believe you can undergo. 🙂

        1. I am a diagnosed Bipolar adult. I have a friend whom is extremely depressed and I am not mentally and/or emotionally stable enough to help her in the ways that I have researched. I can not find anyone to help me help her.

    7. Hi my name is Cody Lynne Lingenfelter and I need help I’ve been living with my mom for 21 years and it’s been great but lately she’s been unbearable to live with it’s gotten to the point that Im scared to facetime my boyfriend because she’ll ask how Lon I’ve been on there with him like she likes him but I don’t think I can handle her negativeity anymore

      1. Living with your parents can always be hard. Though, I don’t think your mom is trying to be as negative as you think. After living with your child for 21 years, and then them being in a serious relationship may be a little hard for her. It’s possible she just doesn’t want you to grow away from her.

          1. Hi Rida,maybe I can help you to get you out of depression and I do not think that you are syco, I think that you are absolutely normal and you just need to talk to someone who can understand you.

    8. I am really faltered the way you describe Depression problem this is a common problem in every persons life the wont get rest and instead depress all the time I think your post might be useful them alot good one keep on posting thanks for the info see you again

    9. Thank you very much for this site! I am at my worst when I believe nobody understands, nobody cares and I am completely on my own.
      Stumbling upon this page has helped me a lot!

      One thing I want to share about safety – As we know one of the symptoms of depression is losing feelings. I was not prepared to lose my felling of fear. One night I went out for a walk long after dark because I didn’t want to run into people I know. I was cutting through a park and was approached by 3 boys asking for money. After I told them I had no money nor credit cards on me, one of them asked the others if, basically they should check it out for themselves. Another boy replied saying, “Nah. She’s telling the truth; she is not even scared.” They left. So if you have a family member who wants to go for a walk by themselves, it’s probably a good idea that someone follows at a safe distance.

    10. I struggle with depression. Well, Bipolar 2. So it comes and goes. But I am glad to find sights like this that help me know I am not alone. Thank you for your insights.
      This is another sight that gives a good insight into depression. If anyone wants to check it out.

    11. My father has depression. It has been hard on my parents marriage, my mum did everything to help him. He didn’t take his medication, he talked about how life was unfair. He yelled at us. He has never hurt us though. Depression changes a person. My parents don’t feel or act the same as they did when they got married. Hope it helped.
      Good luck to anyone with depression. God bless

      1. Same with my spouse who struggled with it. I got blamed for making him to go back on medication. It was my and the world faults. In reality,sometimes when we care too much and over did it and making situation worse. I am learning to love and to care in a distance in the meantime fond something to soothe my pain,hurt…self care is critical if I want to help him. Hope your mom will be ok and same to the rest of the family

    12. Is it normal for a 16 year old to be depressed? I’m really worried about one of my friends. He can’t find anything good in life without his ex and all he does is drink so he will be happy for a while then he goes back to being depressed and the cycle goes on and on and I just don’t know what to do with him anymore. I’ve tried a bunch of different things and I just can’t seem to help him in anyway and I’m stuck on what to do. He also said that he would like to die but he doesn’t have the guts to kill himself. I’m really scared because he’s my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without him.

    13. I be depressed all the time I lay down a low I work in my yard too keed my mind going but now I cant do that because I end up in hospital the other day because of the heat pressure kelp going up and I get there its some going on with my heart and they all so said they found stree on my heart I just don’t know what too do I talk too my doctor but nothing have not been done about it yet I be depress so much it make my head hurt soooooo bad what too do what too do

    14. 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.

    15. 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.