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How to help someone with depression

Caring for someone with depression

If you are caring for a loved one who’s living with depression, here are a few things you can do to aid in their recovery:

Read about it

Learn about the disorder, how it presents itself, the different treatment options available—from credible sources such as WHO, APA, White Swan Foundation for Mental Health, Minds.

Know your limitations

Taking care of someone with depression can be exhausting. Understand your own limitations, take breaks when necessary, and look after your own mental health as well.

Open communication

Create a safe space for the other person, to talk to you openly about their thoughts and feelings, without the fear of judgment.

These are some of the things you can keep in mind:


Don’t say

Why ?

What to say

Don’t force them to talk to you

“If you don’t tell me what’s wrong, how can I help you?”

Give them time to become comfortable with talking about their feelings. Let them know you will be there for them, when they are ready to open up.

“You don’t seem to want to talk about it. That’s okay, but know that when you are ready, I am here for you.”

Don’t make light of their distress

“Everyone has problems.”

Every person’s experience is unique. Comparing their situation to the less fortunate doesn’t make the distress they’re experiencing any less real.  

“I’m sorry you are going through a rough time.”

Don’t force them to control how they are feeling

“Don’t feel bad, cheer up!”

The emotions and thoughts that they are experiencing, are not in their control.

“It’s okay to feel bad. Let it out.”

Don’t force them to do things they don’t feel like doing

“Go out and meet some people!”

Not only does depression impact energy levels, it also kills the motivation to do anything.

“I can come over and spend some time with you if you like, we don’t have to talk, I can just keep you company.”

Avoid tough love

"Do you even want to get better? Just snap out of it!”

Recovery takes time, even with treatment. Be patient and supportive.

“I am worried about you. Is there anything I can do to help?”

Avoid condescending and patronizing comments

“Oh look who’s up early!”

When they make an effort and are able to complete a task, offer genuine encouragement and compliments.

“Hey, nice to see you woke up early. Would you like to get breakfast?”

Compliments can backfire

“You are stronger than this.”

While your intentions may be from a place of care and concern, this may negatively impact their self-esteem and confidence.

“It’s hard to see you in so much pain. Do you want to talk about it?”