Supporting Someone with Depression
Depression can be a debilitating condition. Although it affects everyone differently, a low mood is common as is a loss of enjoyment in things or ceasing involvement in a once loved activity.
It can be difficult to support someone with depression and it is hard to know the right thing to do. Even asking someone with depression how you can support them won’t always lead to practical answers you can put in place.
What to do.
Let the person with depression know that you care about them. You may need to tell them often.
Support the person with depression to attend appointments with their treating practitioner.
If medication has been prescribed, encourage them to take it. If they have concerns about their medication encourage them to talk to their doctor about them.
Listen if they want to talk. Giving space for someone to express what may seem like a random jumble of thoughts can be surprisingly helpful for them.
Let them cry. Crying can make people feel better. If the person you care about is crying for many hours, encourage them to contact their treating practitioner.
If they express thoughts about harming themselves or someone else, treat it seriously.
Contact 000 if there is imminent danger, Lifeline 131114 or your local mental health team.
What not to do.
Tell them you understand. Even if you have had depression yourself, you may have had a very different experience.
Be dismissive3. It is easy to minimise the concerns of others when you can’t feel them directly.
Tell them everything will be okay. Even if you are right, people take their own time to recover.
Although they may not say so, the support of a caring friend, colleague or family member can make a tremendous difference to someone’s recovery from depression. Sometimes seeking help yourself with your EAP can provide you with specific strategies and knowledge for your loved one with depression. Recovery can take many months (and in rare cases years). Your support does make a difference.
1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC.