How to Support Someone With Depression

Depression affects millions of people of all ages and from every walk of life. And if someone you love is struggling with depression, you may be experiencing feelings of helplessness, frustration, and guilt – all of which are normal. That said, your support and compassion may be exactly what they need on their journey to recovery. Here’s how you can help.

Learn What Depression Looks Like

Depression can present itself differently in different individuals. However, common symptoms include the following:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Appearing more pessimistic than usual or hopeless about the future
  • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even over small matters
  • Talking about feeling guilty, empty, or worthless more often than usual
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Having less energy than usual, moving slowly, or generally listless
  • Changes in appetite – reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Having less interest in their appearance than usual or neglecting basic hygiene

People with depression often experience these symptoms to the point where they cause noticeable problems in their work, school, and relationships.

How You Can Help

Start a Conversation

Let your loved one know you’re there for them. You can do this by asking questions or stating a concern like, “The last few times we hung out, you seemed off. Is there something you want to talk about?” While you may get them to open up, they may not want advice just yet. If you sense that’s the case, simply validating their feelings and being invested in the conversation can do a lot.

Take It Seriously

Depression is a serious illness; a person can’t just “snap out of it” after brunch or a movie. When you talk to someone suffering from depression, don’t make light of their situation.

Help Them Find Support

While your loved one may realize they’re suffering from depression, they may be wary of seeking outside help. But if they are open to therapy or counseling, you can help them look up reviews of therapists in your area, come up with things they want to discuss, and encourage them to go to their appointments.

Offer Practical Help

Sometimes people with depression have a hard time completing everyday tasks such as paying bills, cleaning the house, and preparing meals. Unfortunately, late bills, a messy home, and nothing to eat can make matters worse. A great way you can help is by assisting them with these practical things.

Take Care of Yourself

Helping someone through depression can be draining, so make sure you take care of yourself, too. Remember: You can’t pour from an empty cup. And be sure to set boundaries, especially when it comes to your time.

Invite Them Out

A person with depression is likely to withdraw from their social circle. Even so, continue to invite them to do things, even if they continuously decline. Keep the invitation loose by reassuring them there’s no pressure to attend if they don’t feel like coming. Inviting them simply reminds them they aren’t forgotten.

Be Patient

Recovering from depression can be a long process, but you can help your friend or family member by being there every step of the way.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255 (TALK)

Do you have any tips for supporting someone with depression? Share them with us in the comments below!

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