How Do I Help a Loved One or Friend Who Is Depressed?

Reviewed May 15, 2017

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Summary

  • Avoid adding shame and blame to depression.
  • Keep your expectations reasonable.
  • Support healthy habits.

Even though depression is common and very serious, lots of people who have it do not get help. If you know someone who is depressed, you can help him get on the path to recovery. Even if he is already getting help, you can give support that will make his recovery easier.

Here are some things to think about:

Avoid adding shame and blame to depression. When you feel ashamed, it’s harder to ask for help. Many depressed people feel like failures. They blame themselves for feeling sad. They think it is their fault that they are depressed. Sometimes a person makes bad choices that end up making life much more stressful. There are ways in which a person’s behavior can increase depression. But it is important, when helping someone who is depressed, to avoid adding shame to the depression.

Support your friend in getting the right kind of help. Everyone can have a bad day, or a bad week, but when low mood and other signs of depression persist, do not look the other way and hope for things to get better on their own. Help is available from many sources. Your friend might want to start with his primary care clinician, or a psychiatrist, if possible. Do not buy into the idea that everything will be alright without getting the right kind of help—too often that is not true.

Keep your expectations reasonable. When your loved one is depressed, she will not feel like doing everything she used to enjoy. She might get tired easily, or lose interest, or not have fun doing things that you used to like doing together. While she is depressed, she will not get as much pleasure out of a good meal, a night out together, intimacy, or even a good conversation.

Try not to get too disappointed, or to expect too much while the depression is bad. On the other hand, keep in mind that a depressed person often enjoys things more than she thought she would. With some encouragement and cheerleading, you can still do things together. In fact, it is a very good idea to try. A depressed person often avoids doing unnecessary things like having fun, and you can help out by making sure to arrange fun activities that are not too demanding.

Support healthy habits. Your depressed friend is probably neglecting himself in lots of ways. You can help by encouraging him to take good care of himself. Avoid being a nag or a pest about it, but praise your friend when he makes the effort to get enough sleep, eat a healthy meal, exercise, get to the doctor or counselor, or make time to enjoy being with the people who care about him. If he is not careful about taking his medications because of how bad he feels, he will not benefit from taking them.

Let him know that sticking to good health habits, including taking his medicine as he is supposed to, is important. Reducing stress is another way that your friend can help himself. Encourage and support him in finding ways to make his life simpler and less stressful.

Support helpful treatment. If your loved one needs treatment and has found someone to provide counseling, medications, or both, your encouragement is important. Participating in counseling or taking medications for depression can be very helpful, but these treatments take time to work. You have to stick with them long enough. You have to get to the counseling sessions, and you have to take the medicines as you are supposed to do.

If there are problems such as feeling that the therapist is not helping or that the medicines are causing bad side effects, it is important to let the person treating the depressed person know. You can help your depressed friend get the most benefit from treatment by encouraging her to let others know if she is not getting enough help, or the right kind of help, from what she is doing.

Your loved one or friend may not be so much fun to be with when depressed, but do not give up. Your support and help can really make a difference in helping him recover.

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Source: www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm; www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/depression_latelife.html
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Avoid adding shame and blame to depression.
  • Keep your expectations reasonable.
  • Support healthy habits.

Even though depression is common and very serious, lots of people who have it do not get help. If you know someone who is depressed, you can help him get on the path to recovery. Even if he is already getting help, you can give support that will make his recovery easier.

Here are some things to think about:

Avoid adding shame and blame to depression. When you feel ashamed, it’s harder to ask for help. Many depressed people feel like failures. They blame themselves for feeling sad. They think it is their fault that they are depressed. Sometimes a person makes bad choices that end up making life much more stressful. There are ways in which a person’s behavior can increase depression. But it is important, when helping someone who is depressed, to avoid adding shame to the depression.

Support your friend in getting the right kind of help. Everyone can have a bad day, or a bad week, but when low mood and other signs of depression persist, do not look the other way and hope for things to get better on their own. Help is available from many sources. Your friend might want to start with his primary care clinician, or a psychiatrist, if possible. Do not buy into the idea that everything will be alright without getting the right kind of help—too often that is not true.

Keep your expectations reasonable. When your loved one is depressed, she will not feel like doing everything she used to enjoy. She might get tired easily, or lose interest, or not have fun doing things that you used to like doing together. While she is depressed, she will not get as much pleasure out of a good meal, a night out together, intimacy, or even a good conversation.

Try not to get too disappointed, or to expect too much while the depression is bad. On the other hand, keep in mind that a depressed person often enjoys things more than she thought she would. With some encouragement and cheerleading, you can still do things together. In fact, it is a very good idea to try. A depressed person often avoids doing unnecessary things like having fun, and you can help out by making sure to arrange fun activities that are not too demanding.

Support healthy habits. Your depressed friend is probably neglecting himself in lots of ways. You can help by encouraging him to take good care of himself. Avoid being a nag or a pest about it, but praise your friend when he makes the effort to get enough sleep, eat a healthy meal, exercise, get to the doctor or counselor, or make time to enjoy being with the people who care about him. If he is not careful about taking his medications because of how bad he feels, he will not benefit from taking them.

Let him know that sticking to good health habits, including taking his medicine as he is supposed to, is important. Reducing stress is another way that your friend can help himself. Encourage and support him in finding ways to make his life simpler and less stressful.

Support helpful treatment. If your loved one needs treatment and has found someone to provide counseling, medications, or both, your encouragement is important. Participating in counseling or taking medications for depression can be very helpful, but these treatments take time to work. You have to stick with them long enough. You have to get to the counseling sessions, and you have to take the medicines as you are supposed to do.

If there are problems such as feeling that the therapist is not helping or that the medicines are causing bad side effects, it is important to let the person treating the depressed person know. You can help your depressed friend get the most benefit from treatment by encouraging her to let others know if she is not getting enough help, or the right kind of help, from what she is doing.

Your loved one or friend may not be so much fun to be with when depressed, but do not give up. Your support and help can really make a difference in helping him recover.

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Source: www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm; www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/depression_latelife.html
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

Summary

  • Avoid adding shame and blame to depression.
  • Keep your expectations reasonable.
  • Support healthy habits.

Even though depression is common and very serious, lots of people who have it do not get help. If you know someone who is depressed, you can help him get on the path to recovery. Even if he is already getting help, you can give support that will make his recovery easier.

Here are some things to think about:

Avoid adding shame and blame to depression. When you feel ashamed, it’s harder to ask for help. Many depressed people feel like failures. They blame themselves for feeling sad. They think it is their fault that they are depressed. Sometimes a person makes bad choices that end up making life much more stressful. There are ways in which a person’s behavior can increase depression. But it is important, when helping someone who is depressed, to avoid adding shame to the depression.

Support your friend in getting the right kind of help. Everyone can have a bad day, or a bad week, but when low mood and other signs of depression persist, do not look the other way and hope for things to get better on their own. Help is available from many sources. Your friend might want to start with his primary care clinician, or a psychiatrist, if possible. Do not buy into the idea that everything will be alright without getting the right kind of help—too often that is not true.

Keep your expectations reasonable. When your loved one is depressed, she will not feel like doing everything she used to enjoy. She might get tired easily, or lose interest, or not have fun doing things that you used to like doing together. While she is depressed, she will not get as much pleasure out of a good meal, a night out together, intimacy, or even a good conversation.

Try not to get too disappointed, or to expect too much while the depression is bad. On the other hand, keep in mind that a depressed person often enjoys things more than she thought she would. With some encouragement and cheerleading, you can still do things together. In fact, it is a very good idea to try. A depressed person often avoids doing unnecessary things like having fun, and you can help out by making sure to arrange fun activities that are not too demanding.

Support healthy habits. Your depressed friend is probably neglecting himself in lots of ways. You can help by encouraging him to take good care of himself. Avoid being a nag or a pest about it, but praise your friend when he makes the effort to get enough sleep, eat a healthy meal, exercise, get to the doctor or counselor, or make time to enjoy being with the people who care about him. If he is not careful about taking his medications because of how bad he feels, he will not benefit from taking them.

Let him know that sticking to good health habits, including taking his medicine as he is supposed to, is important. Reducing stress is another way that your friend can help himself. Encourage and support him in finding ways to make his life simpler and less stressful.

Support helpful treatment. If your loved one needs treatment and has found someone to provide counseling, medications, or both, your encouragement is important. Participating in counseling or taking medications for depression can be very helpful, but these treatments take time to work. You have to stick with them long enough. You have to get to the counseling sessions, and you have to take the medicines as you are supposed to do.

If there are problems such as feeling that the therapist is not helping or that the medicines are causing bad side effects, it is important to let the person treating the depressed person know. You can help your depressed friend get the most benefit from treatment by encouraging her to let others know if she is not getting enough help, or the right kind of help, from what she is doing.

Your loved one or friend may not be so much fun to be with when depressed, but do not give up. Your support and help can really make a difference in helping him recover.

By James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Source: www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm; www.gmhfonline.org/gmhf/consumer/factsheets/depression_latelife.html
Reviewed by Gary R. Proctor, MD, Associate Chief Medical Officer, Beacon Health Options

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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