How To Help A Loved One With Depression

How To Help A Loved One With Depression

When a loved one is suffering from depression, all you want to do is help lift them out of it. But as mental health experts show, there are ways, both big and small, to show the person closest to you that you care and can get them the support they need. Here’s how…

Spot The Signs

"When someone is depressed, there can be several signs that indicate this. People might present just one or two symptoms, or they could show several. Things to look out for include:

  • Losing interest in something they usually enjoy
  • Appearing to be feeling down or hopeless
  • Speech can be slower than usual, and they may be fidgety and more restless
  • Feeling tired and not having much energy
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Sleeping more than usual or having trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating on everyday tasks.”

–  Dr Kavita Deepak-Knights, Chartered Clinical Psychologist at Cardinal Clinic.

Just Listen

“Just listening to someone without judgement can make a difference in itself and help them feel less isolated. Lots of people will find it difficult to open up about their mental health, so it’s important to tell them that it’s OK to ask for help and that they have people around them who are ready to offer support. It can be difficult for some people to start the conversation. A good place to begin is asking them how they are. Even if they’re not ready to talk right now, you’ve let them know you’re there for them when they are.” – Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind

Be Patient

“Some people haven’t got personal experience of depression and might not understand why someone doesn’t just ‘snap out of it’. It’s common with depression to be very self-critical, so putting extra pressure on somebody to get better quickly can amplify those unhelpful feelings. Try to be patient, and don’t make assumptions about the reasons behind their depression, or how it affects their day-to-day life.” – Stephen Buckley

Stay Empathetic

“Always approach slowly and discuss their symptoms empathetically. Do not minimise their feelings as if they’re are not important. Maintain a calm and positive demeanour when approaching a partner who is suffering with depression – getting frustrated, upset or emotional may make them close up and discourage them from talking.” – Dr Maite Ferrin, Consultant Psychiatrist at Re:Cognition 

Keep In Touch

“Sometimes depression can make people want to withdraw from friends and family, but that’s why it’s even more important to reach out to loved ones who are struggling. Keeping in touch with someone in a way that suits them, whether that’s asking to come for tea or just sending a text message, lets people know you’re thinking about them and value their friendship.” – Stephen Buckley

Help Make Their Lives Easier

“Let them know you care, whether that’s getting some shopping for them or picking the kids up from school. Reassurance that it is OK to feel how they do and that they don’t have to worry about the minutiae of their day will help. Let them know you understand. Let them know things do get better and that you will be there to support them.” – Dr Kavita Deepak-Knights

Ask Them How To Help

“If you live with someone experiencing depression, ask them what you can do to help. While it might help to offer to do some housework, make sure that they are doing things to keep active as well. Try to identify things they would like help with and things they can do themselves. Providing support for other people can also have an impact on your own mental health, so it’s important to look after yourself as well.” – Stephen Buckley

Get Them Out And About

“Encourage healthy ways of coping, preventing and managing depression and anxiety in the long term. For instance, regular exercising, meditation, and a healthy nutritious diet have demonstrated effective for reducing depression and anxiety in multiple scientific studies. Also ensure they are getting adequate sleep every night, as lack of sleep can exasperate depression and anxiety. Drinking alcohol above the recommended limits can also increase the risk of depression and anxiety, or even make the recovery more difficult.” – Dr Maite Ferrin
If you or someone you know could be suffering from depression, there are several places that can help:

  • Call Samaritans on 116 123
  • Visit for more information
  • Find all UK suicide helplines at 

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