How to help a loved one suffering from depression

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

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    Assures teens with parents who abuse alcohol or drugs that, "It's not your fault!" and that they are not alone. Encourages teens to seek emotional support from other adults, school counselors, and youth support groups such as Alateen, and provides a resource list.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

6 Ways to Help a Loved One With Depression

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and helpless when someone you love has depression — or when you suspect they might but don’t know how to tell for sure.

For starters, it’s key to know the differences between feeling down in the dumps and having a more serious mental health problem that needs treatment, says April Thames, PhD, an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Feeling down is typically a temporary setback that is usually triggered by an external event like an argument with a family member or a setback at work, Dr. Thames says. It doesn’t interfere with day-to-day functioning for an extended period of time, and somebody feeling this way will still engage in activities they enjoy doing, at least after several days. It tends to last for only a few days or a week at most, she adds.

In contrast, clinical depression typically involves symptoms like withdrawing from friends and losing interest in activities one used to enjoy — and these symptoms persist for a much longer period of time, Thames says. In order for someone to be diagnosed with clinical depression, the symptoms must last at least two weeks and must demonstrate a change in one’s previous level of functioning, states the American Psychiatric Association.

People with depression also have a very different mindset from people who are feeling down. “A person feeling down usually has hope that things will change for the better,” Thames says. “The person with depression feels that their situation is hopeless and will not change.”

Signs and symptoms of depression to look out for, according to the Mayo Clinic, are:

  • Expressing feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Feeling irritable, frustrated, or angry over small things
  • Sleeping much more or less than normal
  • Having changes in appetite — either eating more or less than normal and gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Having anxiety, restlessness, or agitation
  • Having unexplained physical problems, like back pain or headaches
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, remembering things, and making decisions
  • Expressing feelings of guilt or worthlessness, or ruminating on past failures
  • Mentioning death or suicidal thoughts.

If someone you care about has been diagnosed with depression or is showing any of these symptoms, knowing how to respond is key. Here are six ways to help.

RELATED: 12 Surprising Facts About Depression

1. Bring Up Your Concerns With Your Loved One

If you notice signs of depression in your loved one, it’s important to calmly share your concerns in a way that’s nonjudgmental, says Ole Thienhaus, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. It’s also crucial to give your loved one space to talk about what they’re feeling.

“Listening is the most important part of beginning to help,” Dr. Thienhaus says.

To get them talking, you may start by sharing the changes you’ve observed recently that worry you, Thienhaus says. When you do this, don’t be critical — just state the facts as you see them in a neutral way and pause often to give them room to respond to what you have to say.

“Avoid any suggestion that they have no reason to feel so sad,” Thienhaus adds. This means not saying things like, “Look at all the good things in your life” or “Look at how much worse off so-and-so is, but she doesn’t let her problems get her down.”

Why is this harmful? Many people with depression already believe they should be able to “snap out of it” or should be “mentally strong,” Thames says, feelings that can stand in their way of seeking treatment for depression.

RELATED: What Are the Benefits of Fish Oil for Depression?

2. Help Your Loved One Get Treatment for Depression

Somebody with depression may need help seeking care, both because of a sense of stigma or shame and because their illness makes it harder for them to manage tasks like finding a mental health provider or scheduling an appointment. Suggesting that you can do these things for them, remind them when the appointment is coming up, and accompany them to the visit can help them get treatment sooner rather than later.

If they’re hesitant to see a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, see if they’re willing to visit their primary care doctor, especially if this is someone they already know well and trust, Thienhaus says. Although it’s best to see someone specializing in mental health, the important part is getting connected to some form of help when needed.

You may also have to rethink the words you use to talk about depression treatment because different people may have distinct ways of viewing the condition, Thames says. Some people, for example, may not know to use the word “depressed” to describe how they feel, and might instead perceive their symptoms as being “stressed out” or “not myself,” for example.

“Matching the language that the person can identify with is important when attempting to intervene,” Thames says.

RELATED: 8 Depression Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore

3. Support Your Loved One in Their Day-to-Day Routine

While starting treatment is a crucial component to managing depression, your loved one may still need help with their daily functioning. One good way to help may be offering to go to a therapy appointment with them to hear directly from their mental healthcare provider, says Michelle Riba, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry and associate director of the Comprehensive Depression Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

You can also offer to help them with tasks that may feel overwhelming, like grocery shopping, laundry, or cleaning the house, or simply suggest you take a quick walk around the block together to get them out and about, Dr. Riba says.

Establishing a routine is also very helpful, says Thames. You might try to make that walk happen every day, for example. Regular physical activity can help ease stress and release endorphins and other neurotransmitters, or chemicals in the brain, that play a role in boosting mood, Thames says.

One form of treatment for depression is behavioral activation, which involves engaging in activities one find meaningful, such as doing an enjoyable form of exercise or volunteering, according to the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Encouraging your loved one to do activities that give them personal satisfaction is important — but don’t go overboard with activities and socializing, Thames cautions.

“Most people try too hard to fix the situation by forcing the loved one to do activities and socialize,” Thames says. “This is not always a good thing because it can produce additional stress and inadvertently exacerbate symptoms.”

RELATED: A High-Fiber Diet May Help Lower Depression Risk

4. Look for Signs That Treatment Is Working

There are lots of little ways to tell when treatment works — it will be clear in the ways that your loved one looks and acts, says Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of outpatient clinical services at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

As they improve, someone with depression may start making better eye contact with you instead of looking down to avoid eye contact due to feeling vulnerable or anxious. Other signs of improvement, according to Dr. Halaris, include:

  • Smiling occasionally and having more relaxed instead of tense facial features
  • Having a calmer demeanor
  • Isolating less and interacting with people more
  • Eating and sleeping better

RELATED: The 10 Best Foods to Soothe Seasonal Depression

5. Be Alert to Signs That Treatment Is Not Working

On the other hand, the absence of any such signs most likely means that one’s depression is not improving and may be getting worse, Halaris notes, adding that a major concern in the absence of improvement is whether your loved one is having suicidal thoughts.

“This is where you need to very gently raise the question whether they are having even fleeting thoughts of their life not being worth living,” Halaris says.

According to Mayo Clinic, signs your loved one may be considering suicide include:

  • Making statements such as “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
  • Purchasing a gun or hoarding pills
  • Fixating on violence, death, or dying
  • Withdrawing from social contact with others
  • Feeling hopeless or trapped in their current situation
  • Telling people, “goodbye,” as if they’re going to disappear
  • Getting their affairs in order or giving away their belongings with no other plausible explanation for doing so

If your loved one shows signs of considering or planning to take their own life, Halaris and Riba recommend taking steps to reduce their risk of attempting or completing suicide, such as:

  • Make every effort to convince them to see a specialist if they aren’t already — and make sure to go with them to this appointment.
  • Seek a different approach to therapy.
  • Remove any guns from the home.
  • Ensure they’re not hoarding medications, which might be used for an overdose. If you see signs of this behavior in your loved one, Riba advises treating this as an emergency and taking them straight to the hospital or call an ambulance.

If you’re worried that your loved one is getting worse but they’re not considering or showing signs of any dangerous behavior, ask to join them for part of their next psychiatry or counseling session or voice concern to their provider. You may suggest that you sit in on counseling sessions with their psychiatrist or therapist on a regular basis, Riba says. This will let you give feedback on how treatment seems to be working, hear what your loved one and their doctor are saying, and better understand how you may be able to help.

RELATED: How to Cope With Anxiety and Depression

6. Make a Plan for Recognizing a Relapse

When you’re in it for the long haul with someone who has depression, it’s important to understand that depression is a chronic illness with symptoms that can flare up periodically, just like you might expect with physical conditions like heart disease or diabetes.

“Knowing and accepting that there will be ups and downs can help mitigate any personal frustration one may experience when dealing with a depressed loved one,” Thames say. “Family members or loved ones dealing with someone who has depression may want to seek out personal therapy to help them cope and adjust to the person's mood.”

Although depressive episodes can go into remission with proper treatment, the potential for future relapses can take a toll on relationships, says Thienhaus. That makes it important to talk to your loved one when they’re in remission so that together you can form a plan for how to recognize and respond quickly when a relapse is on the horizon.

“Recognizing the early signs is important in order to gently intervene,” Thienhaus says.

You can also encourage lifestyle habits that may help keep depression at bay, Riba says, such as:

  • Healthy eating and exercise habits
  • Minimizing stress
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Limiting alcohol and drug use
  • Sticking with any depression treatment plans for therapy or medication

RELATED: 8 Health Problems Linked to Not Getting Enough Sleep

Resources We Love (for Both Your Loved One and You)

Plenty of free resources are out there to help you find treatment and get support for your loved one — or for yourself as a caregiver.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA has a treatment locator for various types of mental health issues, as well as a free, confidential, 24/7 hotline for treatment referrals. You can reach their hotline at 800-622-HELP (4357).

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

This lifeline is comprised of a national network of crisis centers that offer confidential, 24/7 support geared toward suicide prevention. You can reach this lifeline at 800-273-8255.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI has support groups for patients, family members, and caregivers, as well as crisis support and an online chat. You can call the NAMI HelpLine at 800-950-NAMI (6264) Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. You can also reach them by email ([email protected]), or you can text their crisis support team 24/7 at 741741 for free support with a trained crisis counselor.

Help and support for a person with depression

Among relatives and friends of any person, people suffering from depression can meet. The help and support that a healthy person can provide to another person tormented by a depressive disorder is invaluable; the main thing is to do it as efficiently as possible and at the same time avoid common mistakes.


  • 10 tips for helping a loved one with depression
  • What not to do
  • When intervention is needed
  • Crisis Support

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 300,000,000 adults and children worldwide are living with depression worldwide. But not everyone experiences depression in the same way, and symptoms can vary from person to person.

If your friend or relative has a true depressive disorder, they may have specific symptoms, such as: nine0003

  • the person becomes sad, tends to cry;
  • depressed people seem more pessimistic than usual, or who have lost all hope of the future;
  • the patient often begins to talk about his feelings of guilt, spiritual emptiness or his own worthlessness;
  • people with depression lose interest in communicating with others, begin to seek loneliness;
  • such patients are easily upset or become extremely irritable; nine0010
  • their general tone decreases, patients move slowly or seem to be generally limp;
  • they lose interest in their appearance or neglect basic hygiene, such as regular showering and brushing their teeth;
  • depressed patients have trouble sleeping or sleep much more than usual;
  • patients care much less about their usual activities and interests;
  • they become forgetful, have trouble concentrating or problem solving; nine0010
  • depressed patients often eat more or less than usual;
  • is often spoken of as death or suicide.

Below are 10 tips for helping a loved one with depression, as well as a few tips on what to avoid when dealing with someone with depression.

1. The importance of listening to others

Tell a friend or loved one that you would like to help him or her in some way. You can start a conversation by sharing your own concerns and asking a specific question. For example: “You seem to be having a hard time lately. What happened that worries you? Keep in mind that your friend may really want to talk about how he feels, but at the same time, he may not want advice from others. A simple tactic of talking with the patient will help to better understand his condition, his mental problems: nine0003

  • Ask questions to get more information, instead of "thinking out" what the patient's messages mean.
  • Make it clear to the interlocutor that you are dealing with his problems. You might say, “It really does sound like you have a problem. I'm sorry to hear this".
  • Show empathy and concern with your body language, that is, with appropriate movements and gestures. Your friend may not feel like being open about their problems right away, so it's worth continuing to talk to them about your concerns and desire to help from time to time. Keep asking open-ended questions (without being too pushy) and express your concerns. Try to keep conversations exclusively in private, tête-à-tête, whenever possible. If you live in different regions, try video chatting. nine0010

2. Help the person find qualified support

Your friend or relative may not know they are dealing with depression or may not be sure where or how to seek help. Even if he understands that therapy can help him solve problems, he may hesitate to start looking for a doctor and visit him for a long time. If your friend is interested in counseling, offer to help them find potential therapists. You can help your friends or loved ones make a list of questions to discuss with the doctor and identify the most pressing issues that they should definitely remember during the first visit. Encouraging and supporting the patient in finding a doctor and scheduling a date/time visit to his office is of great importance for the success of the treatment, especially when the patient does not dare to do it on his own. nine0003

3. About supporting the patient during the course of therapy

On a particularly difficult day, your friend may not even feel like leaving the house. Depression can drain energy and increase the desire to self-isolate. If a friend or loved one starts saying things like, "I don't think I'll be going to psychotherapy anymore," start encouraging them to keep going.

You might say, “Last week you said that the treatment session was really productive, and after that you felt much better. What if today's session also significantly improves your condition? nine0003

The same applies to drugs. If your friend wants to stop taking medication because of unpleasant side effects, encourage him not to break his prescribed medication regimen, but at the same time start encouraging him to talk to his psychiatrist about switching to another antidepressant or stopping the drugs completely. Abruptly stopping antidepressants without permission/supervision from a healthcare professional can have serious consequences.

4. Don't forget to take care of yourself too

When you are caring for someone who is living with depression, it is tempting to drop everything to be close to the person who is depressed and provide them with all kinds of support. If you want to help a friend, it's a noble gesture, but it's also important to take care of your own needs. If you begin to give all your energy to support a friend or loved one, you will have very little self-care left. And if later you start to feel "burnt out" or exhausted, this will not help your friend much. nine0003

Benefits of setting boundaries in communication

Setting boundaries can help you maintain your strength. For example, you can tell your friend that you can talk to him when you get home from work, but not before. If you're worried that a loved one or friend will worry about not being able to contact you, offer to help them come up with a contingency plan should they need to communicate with you during the work day. This may include looking up a hotline number they can call or a code word they can send you in a text message if they have a moment of crisis. You can suggest to the patient that you will visit him every other day or have lunch or dinner with him twice a week, instead of trying to help daily. Inviting other friends can help build a great support network. nine0003

Take care of your own emotions

Spending a lot of time with a loved one who is depressed can cause emotional loss. Determine your limits on experiencing difficult emotions and make sure you have the time and opportunity to regenerate your soul. If you need to let your friend know that you will be unavailable for a short period of time, you can say something like, “I can't talk on the phone at certain times. But then I will definitely call you. nine0003

5. Raise your own awareness of depression

Imagine having to educate every person in your life about your mental or physical health problems - explaining it over and over again. It would become too exhausting for you. You can talk to your friend about his specific symptoms or how he is feeling, but avoid asking him to tell you about depression in general. Read on your own about depression symptoms, causes, diagnostic criteria, and treatments. nine0003

Although people experience depression differently, becoming familiar with common symptoms and terminology can help you have deeper conversations with your friend.

6. Offer help with daily life

Depression can make daily tasks seem overwhelming. Really simple things like doing laundry, grocery shopping, or paying bills can get left undone and start to pile up, and it ends up making it really, really hard to decide where to start. Your friend may appreciate the offer of help, but at the same time, it is also possible that he will not be able to clearly say what exactly he needs help with. So instead of telling the patient, "Let me know if I can do something," you should ask him, "What exactly do you need help with most today?" If you notice that his refrigerator is empty, say, "Can we go shopping together, or will I buy what you need if you write me a list?" A perfectly acceptable option is: "Let's go grocery shopping and cook dinner together. " nine0003

If your friend has stopped doing the dishes, if he has a lot of dirty laundry or other unfinished household chores, call him, turn on the music and do the work together. Your presence and assistance will make it easier for him to do the job and it will not be given to him by an impossible task.

7. Inviting guests can improve the mood of the patient

People living with depression may find it difficult to maintain relationships with friends and make plans for the future or stick to them. But canceling plans can contribute to the feelings of guilt that are common in those who suffer from depression. Refusal of invitations can lead to a decrease in their number, and this can increase the patient's self-isolation. This in turn can worsen the symptoms of depression. You can help put your friend at ease by continuing to send out invitations to visit, even if you know for sure that he's unlikely to have to. Tell him that you understand that he may not follow through when he is especially depressed and there is no pressure on your part for him to come over until he is in the mood to do so. Just remind a friend or relative that you are always happy to see them whenever they feel like it. nine0003

8. Be patient

Depression usually improves with treatment, but it can be a slow process that usually involves trial and error. Your friend and doctor may need to try several different approaches to counseling or medication before they find the best option. Even successful treatment does not always mean that depression is completely gone. Your friend may still have symptoms from time to time. Because of this, he will have good days and bad days - that is, days with a more or less normal or depressed mood. Avoid assuming that a good day means the friend is "completely cured" and try not to get frustrated if a series of bad days gives the impression that your friend's condition will never get better. Depression has no clear recovery timeline. Expecting your friend to return to their normal self after a few weeks of therapy is not a realistic approach to this illness. nine0003


Stay in touch

Reminding your friend that you care about them can help improve outcomes. Even if you can't spend a lot of time with your friend on a regular basis, keep in touch with them regularly via text, phone, or short visits to their home. Just by sending a short text with the message: “I think of you and care about you”, you can significantly improve your mood. People who live with depression may become more withdrawn and avoid socializing, so you may find that the situation requires you to make more efforts to maintain friendships. But the fact that you continue to be present in your friend's life as a positive character can go a long way towards improving his condition. Remind yourself regularly to your friend during his treatment for depression. nine0003

10. Depression can come in many forms

Depression often involves sadness or low mood, but it has other, less well-known symptoms. For example, many people do not realize that depression can have the following manifestations:

  • temper tantrums and irritability;
  • confusion, problems with memory or concentration;
  • excessive fatigue or trouble sleeping;
  • physical symptoms such as indigestion, frequent headaches, or pain in the back and other muscles. nine0010

Your friend may often be in a bad mood or feel exhausted for a long time. Try to understand that what he is feeling is still part of the depression, even if the symptoms do not fit into the stereotypical manifestations of this illness. Even if you don't know how to help your friend feel better, just tell them, “I'm sorry you're feeling bad. I'm here to help you if there's anything I can do" and maybe that will help.

What not to do

1. Don't take things too personally

Your friend's depression is not your fault, nor is it his fault. Try not to let it affect you if he seems to lash out at you in anger or frustration, keeps canceling plans (or forgets to follow up), or avoids a lot of work. You may need to take a break from your friend at some point. It's okay if you're feeling emotionally drained, but it's also important to avoid blaming your friend or saying things that might contribute to negative feelings. Instead, consider talking to a therapist or other person about how you feel. nine0003

2. Do not try to correct the patient's behavior

Depression is a serious mental health disorder that requires professional treatment. It is difficult for a person who has never had depression to understand exactly what the patient feels. Clinical depression is not just a mood swing that can be improved with phrases like "you should be grateful for the good things in your life" or "just stop thinking about the sad things." If you don't want to say something vulnerable to someone who is living with a severe physical illness like diabetes or cancer, you probably shouldn't say that kind of thing to your friend with depression either. Positive support can let your friend know that they really matter to you. nine0003

3. Don't give unsolicited advice

While certain lifestyle changes often improve symptoms of depression, making these changes is difficult in the midst of a depressive episode. You may want to help a friend by offering advice, such as exercising more or eating healthier foods. But, even if it's good advice, your friend may not want to listen to it at the moment. There may come a day when your friend wants to find out what foods can help with depression or how exercise can relieve symptoms. However, by this time, it may be best to stick to empathic listening and avoid offering advice unless he asks for it. Encourage positive change by taking a depressed friend out for a walk or cooking delicious meals together. nine0003

4. Don't belittle the patient's symptoms

If your friend is talking about depression, you can say something like, "I understand" or "We've all been through this." But if you've never dealt with depression, it can reduce your empathy to a minimum. Depression goes beyond just feeling sad or depressed. Sadness usually goes away fairly quickly, while depression can linger and affect mood, relationships, work, school, and every other aspect of life for months or even years. Comparing what a depressed person is going through to other people's troubles, or saying things like, "But it could have been a lot worse," usually doesn't help. Your friend's heartache is what is real to him. Say something like, “I can't imagine how hard it is to deal with this. I know I can't make you feel better, but remember that you are not alone." nine0003

5. Don't comment on prescription medications

Medicines can be very helpful for depression, but they are not for everyone. Some people have a very hard time with the side effects of antidepressants and prefer to treat their depression with psychotherapy or natural products. Even if you think your friend should be taking an antidepressant, remember that medication choice is a personal decision. Also, if you personally do not believe in medicines, avoid discussing this when talking to the sick. For some people, medication is the only way to start the steps towards recovery. In the end, whether or not to take antidepressants is a very personal decision for the patient, which he usually has to make on his own after a detailed conversation with the doctor. nine0003

When Intervention Is Necessary

Depression can increase a person's risk of suicide or self-harm, so it's good to know how to recognize the danger signs. Below is a list of some of the signs that may indicate the presence of suicidal thoughts:

  • frequent mood or personality changes;
  • talk or death;
  • acquisition of weapons;
  • increase in alcohol consumption or initiation of drug use; nine0010
  • risky or dangerous behaviour;
  • disposal of own belongings or distribution of property;
  • talking about feelings of being trapped or wanting to end all problems at once;
  • self-isolation;
  • too expressive farewell after each meeting.

If you think your friend is thinking about suicide, ask him to call his therapist while you are with him, or ask your friend for permission to call his doctor instead. nine0003

Crisis Support

You can also take your friend to a mental health emergency room. If possible, stay with him until he has no more suicidal thoughts. Make sure he can't access weapons or drugs. If you're worried about your friend's mental state, you might start to worry that mentioning it might make them think about suicide. But in general it will be useful to discuss this complex situation. Ask your friend if he is seriously considering suicide. He may be tempted to talk to someone about it, but he doesn't know how to start a conversation on such a difficult topic. Encourage your friend to talk to their therapist about these thoughts if they haven't already. Invite a friend to help you create a special safety plan (crisis plan) that he can use in case of obsessive thoughts about suicide. nine0003

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Support for a partner with depression


Depression is one of the most common mental disorders, affecting more than 350 million people of all age groups.

Annually about 150 million people worldwide are disabled by depression

The support of family and friends is essential in the treatment of mental disorders. However, depression can negatively impact relationships and leave loved ones feeling helpless, frustrated, or afraid.

There are ways people can support a partner with depression on their journey to recovery.

Questions to ask about symptoms

To understand the severity of a person's depression, it is helpful to study how these symptoms affect their life.

Asking about symptoms also shows a person that his partner is interested in his feelings and experiences.

Useful questions to ask include:

  • Can you help me understand how you feel?
  • What activities do you find enjoyable right now? nine0010
  • Do you enjoy spending time with other people?
  • What's wrong with your energy?
  • Do you sleep more or less than usual?
  • Do you eat more or less than usual?
  • Can you focus on things right now?
  • Do you have thoughts of death or suicide?

Questions to avoid

Avoid asking questions that seem judgmental or that place blame on the person with depression. They may already be blaming themselves for their symptoms and need support rather than further judgment. nine0003

It is also important not to oversimplify depression, which is a serious illness.

Examples of questions to avoid include:

  • Why can't you just cheer up?
  • Don't I make you happy?
  • When will you feel better?
  • Don't you realize that it's all in your head?
  • Why do you attach such importance to this? nine0010
  • Do you know that others are in a much worse situation than you?

Partner support

1. Learn about depression

Learning about depression can make it easier to support those with depression. Learning about symptoms often helps people recognize symptoms in their loved ones.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may change over time. However, symptoms must last at least 2 weeks before a doctor can diagnose depression. nine0003

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • feelings of sadness, worthlessness or guilt
  • loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • changes in appetite or weight
  • changes in sleep habits
  • fatigue and loss of energy
  • difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • thoughts of death or suicide

2. Understand and acknowledge your partner's feelings

It is important to listen to a person with depression and express empathy, which is the ability to understand and share other people's feelings. One way to show empathy is to mirror what the person is saying.

For example, if he says, "I just feel like things will never get better," their partner might reflect this by saying, "that sounds like you're not looking forward to the future."

Constant attempts to cheer up a person are useless, as this devalues ​​his condition and feelings. Phrases like “tomorrow will be better” or “try to cheer up” do not take into account the nature of the disease. nine0003

3. Ask your partner what they want from you

To show further understanding and support, ask the person what they need. He may need:

  • medication reminders
  • company when visiting a doctor or visiting therapy
  • homemade meals
  • encouragement to socialize or exercise
  • hug or hold hands
  • to be left alone sometimes

Useful questions to ask include:

  • How can I help you?
  • Would it be helpful if I...?

4. Encourage your partner to heal

Depression can cause a person to lose their motivation, which can be a barrier to seeking treatment. However, most people with depression need treatment to get better. nine0003

Those who support someone with depression can play an important role in their recovery by encouraging them to seek medical help.

To inspire a partner to seek treatment, a person can try:

  • joint detection and documentation of your partner's symptoms
  • expression of desire to help
  • discussion of treatment options such as medication, psychotherapy and lifestyle changes
  • accompaniment to doctor appointments

5. Support your partner during recovery

Recovery from depression can sometimes be difficult. To support a partner in the recovery process:

  • help them keep track of their prescriptions and medications
  • do some physical exercise together
  • plan and prepare healthy meals together
  • nine0009 try to reduce stressors at home
  • make your goals small and achievable
  • encourage them to associate with other people
  • plan fun activities together
  • pay attention to the person's progress towards recovery
  • avoid forcing treatment on the person

Let your partner know they are not alone when you say:

  • I'm here for you. nine0010
  • We'll deal with this together.

6. Accept that there will be bad days

People with depression have good days and bad days. To cope with bad days:

  • expect them to happen
  • understand that this is a normal part of depression
  • don't give up love and support at this time
  • take some time and do something nice, either alone or with others
  • remember that not every day will be like this - there will be good days

7. Take care of yourself

When a person supports a partner with depression, it is very important to take the time to enjoy hobbies and other activities for yourself.

Caring for a partner with depression can be draining, frustrating, and intimidating.

Research shows that having a spouse with depression increases a person's risk of developing depressive symptoms. This risk is especially high when a man is supportive of a depressed woman. nine0003

Those caring for someone with a mental illness should also take care of their own mental health. They can do it:

  • trying to stay positive
  • having realistic expectations about the recovery process
  • knowing that they also have the right to be heard and respected
  • taking time out and doing pleasurable activities and hobbies
  • interacting with other people besides their partner
  • seeking help from friends or relatives
  • doing regular exercise
  • eating healthy
  • trying to get more sleep and rest
  • visiting a psychologist or psychological support groups

Professional support

Professional treatment is an important part of the recovery process. The first step is often to see a doctor, who can recommend treatment, psychotherapy, or both. nine0003

For particularly severe depressive symptoms or in life-threatening situations, seek emergency care.

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People with depression may be at risk of suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, more than half of those who die by suicide suffer from major depression.

Partners of those who suffer from depression should be aware of the warning signs of suicide so that they can take prompt action if necessary. Warning signs include:

  • talking about death or suicide
  • having a suicide plan
  • preparation of means of suicide, e.g. collection of pills
  • preparation for death, e.g. by making a will
  • distribution of things
  • farewell to family and friends
  • engaging in risky or reckless behavior
  • extreme changes in mood or personality
  • nine0009 withdrawal from society

If a person suspects that someone is in imminent danger of suicide, they should seek emergency help.

If someone believes that a loved one is contemplating suicide but is not in immediate danger, they should contact the person's doctor and seek support from other family members or a support group.

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