How to Help Someone with Depression

Depression is an extremely common mental illness that many struggle with. Once you know the symptoms of depression, you may realise that someone you care about is displaying them. You may know for a fact that someone is depressed, but maybe you just suspect it. In either case, this article can better equip you to help them.

What do to if you suspect/know someone has depression

There’s a large stigma around mental health in general, so you may find it awkward to approach the ‘deep dark’ subject of depression with someone. The person you wish to help may not be very forthcoming about how they’re feeling or what they’re struggling with. They may try to put on a brave face around you and make out that it’s not as bad as it seems. Maybe they’re also feeling awkward about approaching the subject. If this is the case, don’t lose hope or feel like you’ll have to eternally dodge any conversations about their depression. In fact, one of the best things to do is…



Despite knowing that your loved one/friend has depression, they may rarely talk about it. So you might have to be the one to initiate the conversation, and this is important. Being open with them about their feelings, no matter how dark they may be, will enable you to understand where their thoughts are at. Ask them questions like, “How’s today been—really?”  It might take time, but eventually talking will become easier between you, and this will take the stigma away from the subject of depression. Talking about their thoughts can also be a big relief for someone struggling with depression. Things can seem less scary when they’re said out loud and shared.



Don’t be too quick to offer solutions like therapy or treatment, or even personal suggestions.  When someone has depression, they must have someone to talk to who listens to how they’re truly feeling. By listening attentively you could spot more dangerous thought patterns and feelings that your loved one is experiencing. By really listening you may hear them mention (even jokingly) things about suicide or self-harm. At this point, you need to ask them openly, “Are you having suicidal thoughts? I want to help.” Don’t feel scared to bring up this subject if you’ve heard them say something worrying. Likely, they’re feeling scared too. Listening very carefully to what they say will allow you to get them the help they need in these crucial situations.

educate yourself

Educate yourself

Don’t assume you know enough about depression to help; many things we hear or have seen portrayed by the media may not be 100% true.  Do the research and learn as much as you can about depression and how to help someone who struggles with it. Doing this will help you understand your loved one/friend slightly better, and will certainly better equip you for dealing with their behaviour. Still, even after learning as much as you can about depression, don’t try and analyse or diagnose your friend/loved one’s behaviour/thoughts. Always let them tell you how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. All this will help you feel more comfortable around the subject of depression and will make your loved one feel more comfortable talking to you.



Having this in place can help someone manage and eventually recover from depression. If they’re not already receiving treatment, suggesting this to a friend/loved one is a key step. Talking with a professional can help them to understand what they’re going through and regain hope. Receiving therapy can place them on the road to recovery. If they’re reluctant, there are still things that can be done. E.g. if they’re a parent, convince them that getting help will help them parent their children better and regain their joy. If there’s another person or family member they’re close to, this can be another way to convince them to get help. 

support systems

Support Systems

These include certain people or activities that can be greatly helpful. You might be part of your friend/loved one’s support system, as might be their therapist/GP. These are people they can feel comfortable calling or talking to or people you can call to help them— particularly if they experience suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm.

spend time with them

Spend time with them

depression makes people isolate themselves and avoid social situations. But being around others is important, so don’t leave them alone all the time— even if this is what they ‘prefer’. Try to spend time talking with them, spend time in places that calm them, and engage in small activities/hobbies that will make them feel comfortable around you.  These could be taking care of a plant, taking long walks, or spending time in nature outdoors. 

Depression is treatable and manageable, so don’t give up hope—you can help someone with depression if you take the right steps. You can help them start on the path to recovery and continue on it! For more information on how to talk to someone you’re worried about, check out CALM’s video below.