How to Support a Loved One Living with Depression

Depression is common, so it’s likely that someone close to you is living with this mental health disorder. How can you support them? Importantly, you can encourage them to seek help. You and your loved ones can connect with compassionate licensed mental health professionals and learn about effective treatments at BetterHelp.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is free, confidential, and available 24/7. Please call 1-800-273-8255 or 911 if you or a loved one is in suicidal crisis. The Lifeline website also has a live chat option for help and support if you are concerned about suicide or emotional distress.

Living with Depression

Ten Tips for Supporting Someone Experiencing Depression:

  1. Be a good listener. Without judging or making assumptions, listening can be helpful. You might try asking open-ended questions, validating your loved one’s feelings, and expressing that you care about them and what they are experiencing.
  2. You might try offering to help your loved one look for a therapist who would be a good fit and encouraging them to schedule and keep their appointments.
  3. Encourage your loved one to stay with their treatment plan. Treatment may include therapy, medication, and self-help and coping skills. If someone you care about feels that their treatment is not working, encourage them to speak with their mental healthcare provider.
  4. Offer your help. Depression can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Your loved one might appreciate specific help or simply random acts of kindness. For example, you might offer to run an errand or might simply drop off food or something else that would be helpful.
  5. Support your loved one in finding a regular routine. Predictability can help people feel more in control and alleviate some stress. For instance, if they have a certain time for waking up in the morning, taking medication, speaking with their therapist, and eating meals, they may feel more motivated and secure about facing these daily tasks. You might even regularly schedule doing something fun with them if they’re comfortable with it, like a walk together one day a week, going out for a meal on weekends, or doing a hobby together.
  6. Keep asking them if they’d like to spend time with you. While avoiding being pushy, you can gently ask your loved one if they’d like to do something with you, whether at home or outside the house. They may say no, but continuing to ask simply, respectfully, and regularly can help them feel supported and know that you’ll be available to spend time together when they feel ready.
  7. Express your willingness to go to therapy with them if they and their mental healthcare provider think it would be helpful. Family or relationship therapy may be additional options.
  8. Be patient and don’t give up. Remember that very effective treatments are available, but there may not be a quick fix, so try to continue being supportive.
  9. Take care of yourself. When someone you care about is experiencing an illness, it’s natural to worry and to want to do all you can to help them. But to be the most helpful, it’s important to give yourself time to rest, recharge, and balance your own life.
  10. Remain hopeful. Remember that depression is common and is highly treatable, and the majority of people who engage in treatment heal.

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