How to Help Someone Experiencing Depression (2024)

How to Help Someone Experiencing Depression

Depression is a serious medical illness with a negative impact on your feelings, thought processes, and actions. Everyone with depression is different, but it’s not uncommon for people living with a major depressive disorder to have a persistently low mood and no motivation to enjoy activities they once loved.

Depression can also significantly impact your appetite, sleep, and energy levels. While it can be tough for someone to experience these symptoms, it can also be challenging for their friends and family members who may not know how to help.

You may not be able to solve your loved one’s depression, but you may make more of a difference than you think by taking these actions:

Offering Practical Support

Offering Practical Support for people with deppression

Depression can sometimes mean that people don’t take care of themselves the way they should. They may not be cleaning their homes, taking care of their hygiene needs, cooking meals, or running errands.

If you and others want to do something meaningful for a friend experiencing depression, consider offering practical support. You might clean up their rubbish and organize a service like AnchorDisposal for trash pickup, clean their house from top to bottom, or even organize grocery shopping.

If you have time, run errands on their behalf or prepare meals they can reheat in the microwave. These small but meaningful actions can show your support and be helpful to a friend or loved one who may be having a tough time.

Educating Yourself

Unless you’ve experienced depression yourself, you may not know what it’s like, what the symptoms are, what causes it, and how people can help. Obtaining this information can be crucial for providing the support and help your loved one needs.

Take the time to read educational information from reputable and authoritative websites. For example, you can learn from the National Institute of Mental Health that the symptoms associated with depression can be different for women and men.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website, there is more than one type of depression, like major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, persistent depressive disorder, and psychotic depression.

The more you know about depression and its intricacies, the more well-informed you can be to help your friend or family member with confidence.

Being a Good Listener

People experiencing depression don’t always want to talk about their feelings. However, when they do, they need someone who won’t show judgment and is willing to sit and listen. They don’t always want solutions to their problems. Sometimes, they just need a listening ear, empathy, and compassion.

If you think you can be that person, let them know you will be. If you’re worried you won’t be the good listener your loved one needs, you can work on your listening skills to help them when they need it the most. Being a good listener involves:

  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Not interrupting
  • Listening without judgment
  • Not jumping to conclusions
  • Listening to non-verbal cues
  • Not listening just to plan what you’ll say next
  • Asking good questions
  • Repeating key statements back

Encouraging Them to Seek Professional Help

Encouraging Friend to Seek Professional Help

You can provide practical support and be a listening ear, but that doesn’t mean you’re a substitute for professional help.

Some people can be so caught in the throes of their depression that they need professional support to keep themselves safe and learn helpful coping mechanisms and lifestyle habits.

While your loved one might not be ready to admit that they need help, don’t be afraid to research possible support options so you can help them reach out when the time’s right. There are several free and paid options to explore, such as free call and text helplines, online therapy, and in-person therapy sessions.

Not everyone is receptive to the idea of seeing a mental health professional, but there are steps you can take to broach the idea for the best chance of success:

  • Find a safe, comfortable, and private space to talk
  • Approach the conversation with compassion, asking them what they think about the idea of going to therapy and saying that you, personally, are worried about them
  • Normalize therapy by sharing your own experiences with it if you have a similar story to tell
  • Share websites and contact information of therapists from your own research
  • Offer to drive them there and wait in the waiting room during their appointment

If you believe your friend or loved one is at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, you may need to take stronger measures, such as involving other adults and taking them to an emergency room.

Keep In Touch

It can be disheartening when a loved one with depression no longer wants to participate in fun and social activities with you because of their condition. While being turned down can be disappointing, don’t let that stop you from reaching out and maintaining a connection with them.

They may not feel up to going out, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want you around or in their life.

Respect their space, but don’t forget to check in and maintain interest in their lives. If they say no to outings, consider alternative options for spending time together, like movies at home or a quiet cup of coffee in the garden.

Look Out for Warning Signs

Warning Signs of Depression in Friends

You might know the traditional signs of depression, like a loss of life enjoyment, sadness, fatigue, and appetite loss. However, it’s essential to know the warning signs that someone might be a danger to themselves.

Knowing what to look for may ensure they receive the help they need in a timely manner. Some of the most common warning signs of suicide include:

  • A recent suicide attempt
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Rage
  • Recklessness
  • Talking about harm
  • Acting in an erratic manner
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Changes in eating and sleeping
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family

If you know your loved one has been depressed and is showing any of these signs above, don’t delay in taking action. Your intervention may just save their life.

Depressed Person

Depression can be debilitating, and it can be heartbreaking to watch someone you love experience it. Just as you would be there to help them celebrate life’s successes, you can also be there during life’s challenges.

If you want to help someone you love work through their depression, take some of the actions above. You may make more of a difference than you think.