Health & Wellness Articles

How to Help Someone Who is Depressed

Encourating Your Loved One to Get Help

By Liza Barnes, Health Educator         
Page 2 of 3
If someone you know has confided in you that they may be depressed, or if you have a strong suspicion that they may be, here are some ways you can help.
  • Educate yourself. The more you know about depression the better you’ll be able to help someone who has it. But don’t play doctor. There are a host of other illnesses that could masquerade as depressive symptoms. There are also many types of depression, and only a qualified professional can diagnose and treat it. Nothing you can say will make depression go away, but you may be able to convince a friend or family member to get help.
  • Educate her. Tell her what you’ve learned and why you think she should pursue diagnosis and, if necessary, treatment. Explain that depression is not her fault, that it doesn’t just go away, and that treatment is often highly effective.
  • Encourage him to get help. Suggest and encourage that he gets help, but don’t force it. Forcing the issue may cause him to either resist completely, or to go just so that you to stop pressuring him (which won't be very helpful). The only exception to this rule is if you think this person is in danger of hurting himself or someone else. Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. Any and all signs of suicide should be taken extremely seriously and acted upon immediately.
  • Provide practical support. Offer her help by finding a therapist, driving her to therapy, babysitting while she's there, or providing some financial support if she can't afford treatment. Enable her to get help, but don’t enable her depression (by taking over her responsibilities while she's not actively seeking treatment).
  • Offer moral support. Be a listening ear when he needs to talk, calling and checking up on him regularly. Just getting it off of his chest is part of the recovery process. People suffering from depression often try to isolate themselves, causing them to sink further into their disease, but being involved and concerned can prevent that.
  • Exercise with her. Exercise can often help improve depression symptoms, although it is not a substitute for treatment.
  • Be a good example. Remember to take care of yourself by eating right, exercising, handling stress, and trying to live a balanced life. This is always important—especially if the depressed person in your life is your spouse or significant other. Try not to let his illness make you sick too. Continued ›
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • How nice if all depressed individuals would get the help needed--- but reality is that help cannot be forced on anyone. If the depressed person rejects help or therapy, then the family members are left to cope with the "circumstances"--
    - This article says to keep in mind not to take personally the things the depressed person says or does.
    BUT small children cannot think in this "adult" way, and little children often suffer terrible consequences from depressed parents. Circumstances can be very harmful to the development of children. Many times intervention is needed for the welfare of children, and this "rescue" never happens. . ---- Please, I suggest that the professionals in the mental health field place a greater emphasis on "child victims" of depressed parents. It is indeed a serious matter. What about the children---?. - 11/12/2014 3:13:00 PM
  • This is a very good article. I was diagnosed in Jan. with bipolar, and actually went because my boss kind of forced me hinting that my job might not be secure if I didn't as it was affecting my work a lot. My sister tried to get me to get help earlier but I thought I could handle it on my own. I think we think that a lot, I'm ok, I can handle it, its just the blues. I'm glad that I got help. I had several other times I was just diagnosed with regular depression, but I'm pretty sure it was bipolar all along. Sometimes its hard to know the difference. I still have my ups and downs, but I'm doing better. Thanks for this article. - 5/14/2011 1:26:25 PM
  • As a person who has had to cope with depression most of my life, I feel that everyone should read this article. So many people know someone who has struggled with depression... a family member, friend, neighbor, co-worker... and having basic information on how to help would be helpful & reassuring. Thanks for a great article. - 2/8/2010 7:17:30 PM

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