5 Ways to Help Someone Struggling with Depression

Watching someone you love struggle through depression can make you feel helpless: you want to offer support, but feel unsure of how to help. With approximately 300 million people worldwide suffering from depression, many of us will at some point be close to someone experiencing this disorder. Although it may feel exasperating at times, with a little research and the right approach, there are some steps you can take to help.

1. Learn How to Recognize the Signs of Depression

Being able to spot the signs of depression will help you distinguish between who your loved one is and how their depression makes them act. This, in turn, helps you take their behavior less personally, allowing you to better protect your own well-being, as well as be more supportive to them. Some common characteristics of depression are

  • Sleeping or eating much more or less than usual
  • Lethargy and low energy
  • Unexplained physical pain
  • Loss of interest in work, school, activities, sex
  • Pervasive feelings of sadness, hopelessness and guilt
  • Talking about suicide

2. Express Your Concern

Though it may not be comfortable to bring up, the first step to getting help is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Severe depression can be life-threatening, and people lost in its fog can’t see what others see. If you’re concerned about your loved one, kindly and compassionately let them know—it could be a vital step in the right direction.

3. Listen With an Open Heart

There’s a reason depression has been called the “disease of loneliness”—depressed people often get labeled as “downers” and further isolated from their would-be support circles. But just like we care for loved ones struggling with any other ailment, we can do the same for someone who is struggling with depression. Depression can be downright debilitating. Simply offering a listening ear, bringing over a hot meal or sitting with them to watch a movie are great ways to show your support. Since this illness makes it difficult to express any positive emotions like gratitude or appreciation, you may feel like your kindness goes unnoticed, but the truth is that thoughtful deeds like these can give someone strength to get through the day. It also puts you in the best position to offer encouragement for this person to seek treatment.

young to middle age Caucasian woman sitting on bed with coffee mug and journal Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

4. Encouraged Your Depressed Loved One to Seek Help

The good news is that depression is treatable. Because it’s such a motivation killer, the role loved ones play in getting a depressed person into treatment can’t be understated. Depression that remains untreated rarely goes away on its own and often worsens over time; getting your loved one into treatment is paramount. And although setting boundaries with a depressed loved one is often easier said than done, it’s also equally important to remember to protect your own physical and mental health in the process. Leaving the counseling up to the professionals is the best course of action, especially for severe depression.

5. Look Into Depression Treatment Options

Treatment for depression comes in many different forms, including inpatient rehab for depression, which can yield great results even for people whose depression is more acute, or who weren’t happy with the outcomes of previous approaches they tried. Treatment methods for depression vary, but typically consist of some combination of medication, counseling and/or holistic therapies. To learn more about what programs are available and browse centers that may suit your loved one based on location, specialization and more, visit our directory of luxury rehab centers specializing in depression.