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How to Help Someone with Depression | La Hacienda

How to Help Someone with Depression: Strategies for Support

Depression can be a daunting challenge for both the person experiencing it and their loved ones. It’s crucial to know how to effectively support someone living with depression and navigate the complexities of this mental health condition.

Let’s start by learning how to help someone with depression and understanding its impact on their life.

Short Summary

  • Recognize signs and symptoms of depression and provide support to seek treatment.
  • Create a safe, non-judgmental space for conversation and offer encouragement with daily tasks.
  • Monitor progress and provide emotional support during the recovery journey while practicing self care as a caregiver.

Understanding the Impact of Depression

A person with depression sitting alone in a room, feeling overwhelmed by their mental health issues. | La Hacienda

Depression is a serious condition that can have significant emotional and physical consequences on a person’s life. A depressed person may struggle with daily activities such as work or school, social life, and relationships. As a form of mental illness, depression can be life-threatening. People suffering from depression face an increased risk of suicide.

Understanding the impact of depression is essential in providing the right support for a loved one. This involves recognizing depression symptoms such as a lack of interest in activities, avoidance of social events, a negative outlook, physical aches, and self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.

It’s important to encourage them to seek depression treatment and to be patient, as depression can make even simple tasks like making an appointment feel overwhelming.

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depression is a type of clinical depression characterized by depressive symptoms such as withdrawal from friends and loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, often leading to feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of taking one’s own life.

The distinction between merely feeling down and having major depressive disorder lies in the persistent sense of futility, where a person with depression feels their situation won’t change.

Understanding the severity of major depressive disorder is crucial in providing the right support to your loved one.

Emotional and Physical Symptoms

Depression affects both emotional and physical aspects of a person’s life. Emotionally, they may experience persistent sadness, loss of interest, hopelessness, helplessness, low self-esteem, and frequent crying.

Physically, depression can cause chronic fatigue, decreased interest in sex, and physical aches or pains.

Being aware of these symptoms will help you better understand your loved one’s struggles and the severity of their depression.

Approaching Your Loved One

A person receiving emotional support from a therapist or loved one, as a way to learn how to help someone with depression and monitor their progress towards recovery. | La Hacienda

When approaching a loved one with depression, it’s important to create a safe and non-judgmental space for them to share their thoughts and feelings. Be mindful not to suggest that they have no reason to feel so sad, as this can prevent them from getting the help they need. Instead, offer encouragement and hope, and ask open questions to foster conversation.

Assisting your loved one with everyday tasks like helping them organize household chores,grocery shopping or laundry can also be helpful. Offer to help out with specific tasks and suggest doing a hobby or other activity together. Remind them of the things you appreciate about them to encourage positive reinforcement.

Centering on certain tasks like a healthier lifestyle, positive outlook, eating better, staying away from alcohol and drugs, exercising, and reaching out for support might cause angry outbursts. Most depressed people go in and out of a downward spiral and are very sensitive and aware when they are not able to participate in normal activities.

Believe it or not, physical activity can be the best medicine. Participating in an activity together, you motivate each other.

Active Listening Techniques

Active listening techniques are essential when talking to a loved one about their depression. These techniques include reflecting back what’s being said, asking open-ended questions, making sure you understand what they are saying. It is important that the depressed person feel that they are being heard.

Pay attention to their body language, focusing on the purpose of the conversation, giving encouraging feedback, and showing unbiased acceptance and validation of their experience.

By applying active listening techniques, you create a supportive environment, allowing them to feel heard and understood. This can help them open up about their feelings and experiences, leading to better communication and understanding of their depression.

Encouraging Openness and Honesty

Encouraging openness and honesty is crucial when supporting someone dealing with depression. Validate their emotions and reassure them that their feelings are important. Do not discuss past failures. They know they should do something different but the depression makes it unbearable. They try and just can’t.

Show them that you genuinely care and are there to support them as they deal with depression.

Don’t be discouraged if you ask, “How can I be there for you right now?” or “What can I do to be helpful?” and they respond, “I don’t know.” That is the depression talking.

Supporting Treatment and Recovery

Supporting your loved one’s treatment and recovery involves helping them find a mental health professional, attending therapy sessions if asked, and monitoring their progress while adjusting your support accordingly. Assist your loved one in finding a mental health professional by researching therapists, offering to accompany them to appointments, and providing emotional support.

Encourage your loved one to stay committed to their treatment and ask how you can better understand their depression and learn effective ways to support them during their recovery.

Regularly check in on their progress and be prepared to adjust your support as needed, being aware of signs that treatment may not be working and discussing concerns with their mental health professional.

Finding a Mental Health Professional

To help your loved one find a mental health professional, ask for referrals from health insurance companies, primary care providers, or trusted friends and family. You can also check online directories like Psychology Today or search databases maintained by mental health organizations.

Once you have a list of potential providers, you can call and ask questions to determine if they’re the right fit for your loved one.

Offering your assistance and emotional support during this process can make a significant difference. Encourage your loved one to take the first step towards recovery by making an appointment with a mental health professional.

Attending Family Therapy Sessions

Attending family therapy sessions can help you gain a better understanding of your loved one’s depression and learn effective ways to support them during their recovery.

Family therapy can enhance communication, settle disagreements, and provide support for one another, which is especially crucial when a family member is dealing with depression.

Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Support

It’s important to ask treatment professionals and counselors how you can monitor your loved one’s progress in treatment and adjust your support as needed.

Be aware of any signs that the treatment may not be working and have permission from them to talk to their mental health professional if you have any concerns.

Recovery is a process, and being there for your loved one throughout this journey can make all the difference.

Recognizing and Addressing Suicidal Thoughts

A Noose depicting suicidal thoughts, feeling overwhelmed and isolated. | La Hacienda

Recognizing and addressing suicidal thoughts is a crucial aspect of supporting a depressed person.

Depression is linked to an increased risk of suicide. Be aware of warning signs such as talking about wanting to die, expressing feelings of hopelessness, and exhibiting extreme mood swings. Take these signs seriously and act immediately.

Don’t leave them alone. Dial 911 if you are not with them and feel they are in danger, or call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

Responding to any emotional crisis involves staying calm, listening without judgment, and guiding your loved one to seek professional help immediately. By being there for your loved one, you could potentially save their life.

Warning Signs of Suicide

Warning signs of suicide include talking about death, giving away possessions, increased substance use, and feelings of hopelessness. Be vigilant in recognizing these signs in your loved one and take appropriate action to ensure their safety if you feel they are in danger.

Encourage them to speak with their family members, friends, and if they have a psychiatrist to make a therapy appointment. If possible, ask if you can take them and participate.

Familiarize yourself with your family member or friend’s depression and warning signs and be prepared to respond quickly and effectively.

Self-Care for Caregivers

A family member setting boundaries and organizing household chores to help a depressed loved one. | La Hacienda

As a caregiver supporting a person with depressive symptoms, it’s essential to prioritize your own well-being as well. Practicing self-care will help you maintain your emotional and physical health, allowing you to continue providing the best support for your loved one. Set boundaries, communicate your needs, and seek support for yourself to prevent burnout.

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries is crucial in maintaining your well-being as a caregiver. Know your limits and communicate your needs to your loved one. Ensure you have time for self-care, personal interests, and other important aspects of life.

By setting boundaries, you can prevent burnout and resentment. It’s okay to say no and prioritize your own needs as you navigate the challenges of caregiving.

Seeking Support for Yourself

Seeking support for yourself can include joining support groups, talking to friends or family, or seeking professional help to manage your own emotions and stress. Utilize resources such as the NAMI Helpline (800-950-NAMI) to find support.

You’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges of caregiving and maintain your own emotional well-being. Remember, it’s vital to take care of yourself in order to effectively support your loved one.

Treating Depression at La Hacienda Treatment Center

Drugs and alcohol often mask depression symptoms. Also persons with major depression frequently abuse substances to self medicate.

La Hacienda Treatment Center in Hunt, Texas, has been treating alcoholism and drug addiction for more than 50 years. While we do not treat severe depression as a primary illness, treating patients wth a dual diagnosis is something we do very well.

Our medical and clinical team listen carefully and screen prior to admission for depression coupled with addiction and or alcoholism.

Understanding depression is important in addiction treatment. In our screening, we ask each person if they have made suicide attempts. We ask if tahey are having difficult emotions that may lead them to attempt suicide.

If suicidal ideation is current, we suggest seeking immediate help at an emergency room or with a health care professional.

An on-staff mental health provider is available daily to talk with patients. Our doctors and counselors help our patients address their addiction and any clinical depression issues.


Helping someone with depression is a challenging yet rewarding journey. By understanding the impact of depression, approaching your loved one with empathy and active listening, supporting their treatment and recovery, recognizing and addressing suicidal thoughts, and practicing self-care as a caregiver, you can make a significant difference in their life.

Your support, understanding, and encouragement can be the lifeline your loved one needs during their darkest moments.

Frequently Asked Questions

What helps people cope with depression?

Taking steps to manage one’s own mental health is an important step towards coping with depression. Practicing self-care, talking to a trusted friend or family member, and seeking professional help are all strategies that can help people cope with depression.

What advice can you give someone who is depressed?

Reach out to the person and let them know you’re there for them. Show your support and remind them that they are not weak or alone.

Help is available – seek professional advice, join support groups and consider the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 988 for free, confidential support.

What is the first step in helping someone with depression?

Start by offering your support and listening to them – acknowledge their feelings without judgement. Ask how you can best help them and offer some ideas they might find helpful. Encourage them to seek professional advice if necessary.

How do you empower someone who is depressed?

Help the person identify their own strengths and resources, teaching them to be resilient and equip them with coping strategies. This way, they can become more empowered to tackle challenges and build personal strength.

How can I approach my loved one if I suspect they have depression?

Start a conversation by asking if everything is okay, create a safe space, offer encouragement and hope, and ask open-ended questions.