Helping Others

There are things we can do to help others.

Many of us know of someone who is battling depression but are not sure how to help them.
We sometimes even pull away from those we care about because we aren’t sure what to say or do to help.

Here are some tips of things you can do to help someone you care about as they deal with depression.

1. Understand Depression

Before you are able to help someone who is dealing with depression, you need to understand it.

A good place to start is to learn what depression is, how it affects someone’s feelings or thoughts, types of depression, and some tips that might help someone with depression manage their symptoms.

Click on the links below to learn more:undefined
What is depression?
Types of Depression
Helpful Tips for Managing Depression

2. Take Care of Yourself

It's difficult to care for someone else if you are not first looking out for yourself. You will have more energy to help someone who is dealing with depression if you have healthy habits like being physically active, making healthy food choices and getting a good night's sleep.

3. Look for Signs and Symptoms

Understanding depression includes an understanding of what signs and symptoms might let you know that someone is struggling. Understand that you may not be able to help someone with these symptoms and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a healthcare provider, or reach out to others close to someone dealing with depression. If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

To learn more about the Signs and Symptoms of depression, click here.

4. Provide Support

There are many ways that you can provide needed support to someone with depression.

  • Start by listening to what they need to tell you.
  • You may quickly find that you need to establish limits- what you are willing to listen to, how long you will listen, when you will listen and when you would be more comfortable with professional help.
  • Communicate your limits clearly to your loved one so that they understand that you want to support them.
  • Avoid blaming those who are battling depression. Sometimes you may find yourself thinking, “if they would just…, they would feel better.” Accept that you do not know how they feel and avoid blaming them for the struggles they are facing- they want to feel better!
  • Partner with others who care about the person close to you also. Together, you can provide the needed support without it being overwhelming for one person.
  • Do things together as a family or group of friends that will be fun for everyone, including the person who is feeling down. Having fun together will help make everyone feel better.
  • Expect that it will take time for the person you care about to start to feel better. Be patient but maintain your limits throughout the process.

5. Know Your Limits

Supporting someone who is dealing with depression can be challenging- even exhausting. Make sure you continue to take care of yourself even when supporting others. If you start to feel like you are not able to take care of yourself, or you need a break from supporting someone, that’s OK! Take some time to focus on you when you need it. If you are worried about pulling away from someone with depression, reach out to others who care about them to provide support.

For more information, please visit: “For family and friends.” “For Friends and Family Members.”

Mental Health America, “For Family & Friends.”

NAMI, "Helping Others Along the Road"