How to Help Someone Who is Depressed

“It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.” – Stephen Fry

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.
  • 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 someone with depression 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, especially if they’re talking about specifics. 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.
  • Learn about 3 common  behaviors in people who are depressed.

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. Here are 10 tips for staying sane when your partner is depressed.
  • 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.

Links

  • 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
  • If You Know Someone Who's Depressed
  • Loving Someone with Depression - Literally, Darling
  • 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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    Understanding Someone with Depression – Three Common Behaviors

    Wheat Field Behind Saint Paul Hospital with a ReaperI’ve been on both sides of the depression fence. I’ve suffered from clinical depression for more than forty years. And although I haven’t had any family members with depression, I have had friends who were depressed and have been in relationships with men who have depression.

    I’ve written about what it feels like to be depressed. What does it look like from the other side? You probably know if you’re dealing with someone who’s depressed. It may be your spouse, parent, child, sibling, employee, roommate or romantic partner. Unless you have personal experience with depression, you’re probably baffled, frustrated, and possibly hurt and angry. Even if you have suffered from depression, you still might be baffled. Your experience with depression, while probably fundamentally similar to this person’s, is going to vary to some extent.

    Continue Reading