Helping a Depressed Person

  • Though frustrating, the best help you can provide for a depressed person is support and understanding.
  • The first step to helping someone who is depressed is to understand the symptoms of depression.
  • Encouraging the individual to seek treatment and offering help in finding effective treatment can be very beneficial.

Depression is such a challenging problem for both the individual suffering from the condition as well as for those who care about the individual.  Helping a depressed person can leave you struggling for answers, frustrated and wondering where to go from here.  Keep in mind that, although frustrating, the best help that you can provide for a person is to offer support and understanding during this difficult time.  Depression hurts and support will provide the foundation for recovery.

Symptoms of Depression

Help a Depressed Person

A depressed person needs to have someone they can talk to.

The first step to helping someone who is depressed is to understand what they are going through.  The symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe.  Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:

  • a lack of care for important matters
  • sadness or irritability that is uncontrollable
  • feeling helpless or hopeless
  • having a negative attitude
  • chronic fatigue
  • overeating
  • indecisiveness, forgetfulness or being disorganized
  • withdrawing from friends, family or loved ones
  • complaining of headaches, body aches, stomach aches or back pain

Encouraging Treatment

Helping a depressed person may require your own due diligence in alerting them to the need for help.  Encouraging a loved one to get help can be the best support you can provide.  Tell the depressed person that if he or she seeks professional treatment for the addiction that they will feel better. Don’t be afraid to talk to a loved one about the depression.  Even if you think that he or she will be upset with you for mentioning depression or for asking questions about their own well-being it’s important for you to remember that the conversations you have could save his or her life.

Helping a depressed person can be challenging mainly because a depressed person may withdraw and be defensive with you when you confront him or her about the possibility of a problem.  Encourage the individual to seek professional help.  When the individual does talk to you, be open and willing to listen to their problems and try not to be judgmental.

Encouraging Words

Helping a depressed person takes your own commitment to listening and not placing judgment.  Keep in mind that depression is not a personal vendetta against you and just because the individual may be upset when you confront him or her, you are only trying to help.  Avoid saying things to the individual that will make matters worse like:  “it’s all in your head,” or “what’s wrong with you.”  Supportive words of encouragement can help you help someone in need.  Consider saying things that will help the individual to understand that he or she is not alone, that you are supporting them and that you do care.  Make sure that the depressed person knows that you just want to help and that you are there to be a friend with a helping hand.

Finding Treatment for Depression

When you are able to convince your friend or loved one into getting help, the next way that you can provide effective help is to offer assistance in finding treatment.  A doctor can likely offer a helping hand and if the depression is severe there may be a need for hospitalization.  By offering a helping hand, treatment for depression may come a bit easier for the individual and you can rest assured that your help may have saved the person’s life.


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