How to Help Someone With Depression

Helping someone with depression can be a challenge. Depression may manifest itself in different ways or even be hidden.

A person with depression may have difficulties with various daily activities, whether it be working, communicating with others, or even eating or sleeping.

However, a mild depression might be more difficult to spot so a person who experiences it may feel sad and unmotivated without understanding what’s going on. For example, postpartum depression might be difficult to pinpoint because of the overall exhaustion that often follows pregnancy and childbirth.

In addition, depression shares some common symptoms with other disorders. For instance, people with bipolar disorder can experience depressive episodes and symptoms. Only qualified and licensed healthcare professionals can come up with the right diagnosis and suggest the appropriate treatment.

If someone you care about has symptoms of depression, it’s important to understand that these symptoms may worsen with time if depression remains untreated. It’s important to seek help from a therapist and a GP and as early as possible to get the necessary treatment.

If you or your loved one is in a life-threatening situation, please call 911 or reach out to your local emergency resources.

Helping Someone With Depression

Is It Depression or Are They Just Sad?

There are many myths about depression, and the popularity of this term in mass culture often makes it difficult to figure out what depression actually is. Depression can only be diagnosed by a professional.

Major depressive disorder, or clinical depression, is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The symptoms of clinical depression may differ in each particular case, but here are the most common signs of depression:

  • A person loses interest in activities that are supposed to bring pleasure, including sex, sports, and hobbies.
  • A person feels sad, hopeless, and empty.
  • A person may also feel restless or anxious.
  • Depression often causes a lack of energy, tiredness, and sleep problems, like insomnia or oversleeping.
  • People with depression may also feel worthless, being fixated on their failures.
  • Quite often, depression is accompanied by a loss of appetite or overeating.
  • Depression can make it difficult to stay focused and make decisions. It may also negatively affect one’s memory.
  • People who suffer from severe depression often have suicidal thoughts and make suicide attempts.

To understand how to help someone who’s depressed, you should keep in mind that different people experience depression differently. Sometimes, the symptoms are severe, making people unable to perform their regular activities. Depression may also affect one’s relationships and work and lead to substance abuse.

However, depression may also be less obvious for others if the person who suffers from it doesn’t talk to others about their emotional problems. At the same time, this person may experience numerous symptoms of depression and even consider suicide. The risk of suicide makes depression especially dangerous.

So if your friend or partner demonstrates symptoms of depression, it’s important to know how to help someone who is depressed. Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do.

How to Help Someone With Depression

1. Identify the Possible Symptoms of Depression

Familiarize yourself with the common symptoms of depression and pay attention to the changes in the person’s behavior. Do they seem less active than usual? Do they act or talk differently?

If you see that the person starts to demonstrate more and more symptoms of depression, you may want to encourage them to see a therapist or GP.

2. Practice Compassionate Listening

As we’ve already mentioned above, not all people are open about their emotions. Besides, if you start to express your concerns regarding the symptoms of depression, the person may feel overwhelmed so it’s important to listen to them and to know what to say when someone’s depressed.

You shouldn’t try to fix someone’s depression. The best solution is to do your best to make this person feel understood and supported.

Tell them that they are not alone in this and that you’re always ready to listen. Ask them what help they need, and be compassionate. Don’t tell a depressed person that they should just stop being sad or that it’s just a phase. Never downplay the seriousness of depression because this way, the person who suffers from it will feel even more isolated and misunderstood.

3. Provide Support

People who suffer from depression are often too hard on themselves so they can benefit from positive reinforcement. Remind them about their strengths and don’t forget to tell them how important they are to you and others.

You may also help them create a low-stress environment and provide the necessary assistance with their daily routine. You may even suggest making a daily schedule that can include meals, exercises, and sleep.

4. Keep in Mind the Risk of Suicide

Depression is associated with an increased risk of suicide so you should keep in mind that your friend or partner might feel suicidal at some point. Therefore, you should be able to quickly recognize suicidal behavior and be ready to take the necessary actions.

Ask the person whether or not they’ve been thinking about suicide. If they have a suicide plan, it means that the risk is especially high.

Contact a therapist or another health professional to learn what you can do to help. Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk with a trained counselor. Call 911 if the person is in immediate danger of self-harm.

You may also want to contact the person’s family members so that they will know that the person is in danger. If the person demonstrates suicidal behavior, make sure to create a safe environment by removing any things that can be used for a suicide attempt.

5. Encourage Getting Treatment

Depression can worsen if it remains untreated. So you should encourage the person to get professional help as soon as possible. It usually involves medication, talk therapy, and self-care practices.

There are different types of therapy that can help treat depression, and the right type of therapy is a personal experience that depends on different factors.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and interpersonal therapy have proven to be the most effective types of psychotherapy for depression.

In-person therapy is effective, but a person who needs help may have a busy schedule, and the cost of face-to-face sessions can be quite high. In this case, online therapy may be an option.

Online therapy platforms like Calmerry enable everyone to talk to a mental health professional with no need to visit a therapist’s office, being a more accessible and affordable solution.

Wrapping Up

Helping someone who is depressed can be a challenge because depression may manifest itself in different ways, and you should know its symptoms to understand whether or not the person you care about needs professional help.

Be with them and be ready to listen. Don’t try to fix someone’s depression and encourage them to get treatment.

Keep in mind that depression can be very dangerous because it often leads to self-harm and suicidal behavior. Therefore, you should be careful, compassionate, and supportive.

We hope that this quick guide will help you learn how to help someone who suffers from depression and offer the necessary support.

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