How To Help Someone With Depression: 5 Steps

December 7, 2023

An image of two women spending quality time together, showing how best to help someone with depression

Major depressive disorder (depression) is more than just feeling down. For those who have not personally encountered clinical depression, understanding its nature can be challenging. Individuals with good intentions often offer simplistic advice such as “just think positively” or “snap out of it.” While unspoken, some may perceive those experiencing depression as lazy or seeking attention. It is essential to recognize that major depressive disorder is a genuine and significant psychological condition. This guide addresses issues that include:

  • How to help someone with severe depression.
  • How to help someone with depression who doesn’t want help.
  • How to help someone depressed and in crisis.
  • How to help someone who is depressed and suicidal.
An image of a friend consoling her loved one, showing an example of how to help someone with depression

Recognizing Depression in a Loved One

Recognizing depression in a loved one requires a nuanced understanding of the condition’s diverse manifestations. While some people may openly express their emotional turmoil, others may conceal their struggles behind a facade of normalcy. Pay attention to subtle changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from social activities, alterations in sleep patterns, or a noticeable decline in enthusiasm for once-enjoyed activities.

When working out how best to help someone with depression, communication plays a pivotal role. Creating a safe space for open dialogue allows individuals to express their feelings without fear of judgment. If someone you care about exhibits signs of depression, offering support and encouragement to seek professional help can help streamline the recovery process. Depression is a treatable condition, and early intervention can significantly improve outcomes. Being proactive in acknowledging and addressing a loved one’s mental health can make a meaningful difference in their journey towards recovery. How do you help someone with depression, then?

5 Steps to Help Someone with Depression

Helping someone with depression requires a thoughtful and compassionate approach. Here’s how to help someone dealing with depression in simple, actionable steps:

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  1. Educate yourself: Take the time to learn about depression symptoms and treatment options. Understanding the complexities of the condition will enable you to offer more informed and empathetic support.
  2. Initiate open conversations: Create a non-judgmental space where your loved one feels comfortable sharing their feelings. Encourage them to express themselves and listen actively without offering immediate solutions. Sometimes, a compassionate ear can be as valuable as any advice.
  3. Offer practical help: Individuals with depression may find it challenging to manage daily tasks. Offer practical assistance, such as helping with household chores, running errands, or providing transportation to therapy appointments. Small gestures can lighten some of the burdens they may be experiencing.
  4. Encourage professional help: Gently suggest seeking professional assistance, such as therapy or counseling. Offer to help find a mental health professional or accompany them to appointments if they feel comfortable with this idea. Professional guidance can provide effective strategies for managing and overcoming depression.
  5. Be patient and persistent: Recovery from depression is a gradual process, and setbacks may occur. Be patient and persistent in your support, emphasizing that you are there for the long haul. Consistent encouragement can make a significant impact on their journey to recovery.

Encourage your loved one to engage with the services of mental health professionals who can provide specialized care tailored to their needs.

What Treatments Can Help Someone with Clinical Depression?

Several effective treatments are available for clinical depression, and the most appropriate approach may vary from person to person. Consult with a mental health professional to determine the most suitable treatment plan. Here are some common interventions:

Psychotherapy (talk therapy)

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, involves discussions with a trained mental health professional. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), and interpersonal therapy are among the therapeutic approaches that can help people better understand and manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.


Antidepressant medications can be prescribed by a psychiatrist to help regulate neurotransmitters in the brain. These medications often take time to show full effects and finding the right medication or combination may involve some trial and error.

ECT (electroconvulsive therapy)

In cases of severe depression that do not respond to other treatments, electroconvulsive therapy may be considered. ECT involves passing electric currents through the brain to induce controlled seizures, leading to changes in brain chemistry that can soothe depressive symptoms.

Lifestyle changes

Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can complement other treatments. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, focusing on the quality and quantity of sleep, and managing stress effectively can positively impact mood and overall well-being.

Support groups

Participating in support groups or group therapy sessions can provide individuals with depression a sense of community and understanding. Sharing experiences with others who are going through similar challenges can be both validating and supportive.

Individuals with clinical depression should work closely with mental health professionals to determine the most effective combination of treatments for their specific situation. The integration of various therapeutic approaches often yields the best results in managing and overcoming clinical depression.

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Get Depression Treatment for a Loved One at Connections

Whether your loved one needs depression treatment or treatment for anxiety disorders, we can help them restore functioning and improve overall well-being at Connections Mental Health in Southern California.

Your loved one will find out treatment center feels homely and welcoming. During inpatient mental health treatment, your family member can access leading-edge treatments and a variety of holistic therapies to address the depression or anxiety that is holding them back. Call 844-413-0009 and discover how your loved one can improve their mental health.

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