If you know someone close to you who suffers from depression, it can be difficult, confusing, and sad, not just for him or her, but for you as well. You may be intending to help your loved one, but you should also make sure you say and do the right thing. Even if it seems like he is not paying attention to you, he is trying. If you are looking for some methods to help someone with depression, we have prepared the tips below.
Note: If you need immediate help in your country go to the Additional Resources section.
Part 1 of 5: Talking to Your Loved One About Depression
Step 1. Seek help immediately if your friend is contemplating suicide
If the person in question is contemplating taking his or her life, we kindly ask you to seek immediate help by calling an emergency number or taking them to the nearest emergency room.
If you think that you or someone you love is in a depressed state it is important to seek help. In the Additional Resources section you will find information to contact the agency in charge of helping you in your country.
Step 2. Make a list of the symptoms
If you suspect that one of your loved ones has depression, make a list of their symptoms. This will give you a better idea of their level of depression. Make a list of the symptoms that you can observe. These have to be present almost all day, almost every day, for at least 2 weeks.
- Lost interest or pleasure in things that were previously pleasant.
- Significant loss of appetite or weight loss
- Weight gain or overeating
- Disturbed sleep (cannot sleep or sleeps excessively)
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Greater agitation or lower level of movement, noticeable to others
- Feeling worthless or excessive guilt
- Difficulty concentrating or indecision
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempt, or making a plan to kill yourself.
- These symptoms may last 2 weeks or more and may go away and come back. This is called "recurring episodes." In this case, the symptoms are more than a "bad day", they are a severe change in mood that affects the development of the person at a social or work level.
- If your friend has suffered the loss of a relative or other traumatic event, he or she may show symptoms of depression and not be clinically depressed.
Step 3. Talk to your loved one about their depression
Once you recognize that your loved one is suffering from this illness, you should be honest and talk openly with him or her.
If you do not admit to having a serious problem at stake, then that person will have a very bad time if they want to improve
Step 4. Explain that depression is a clinical disorder
Depression is a medical disorder that a doctor can diagnose and that can also be treated. Give him peace of mind that the depression he is feeling is real.
Step 5. Be firm
Make it clear that you care about him or her. Don't let him downplay the situation by saying it's just a "tough month." If your friend tries to change the subject, bring up the point of their emotional state again.
Step 6. Don't be confrontational
Remember that your loved one is suffering from an emotional problem and is in a very vulnerable state. While it's important to be firm, don't push yourself too hard at first.
- Don't start by saying, “You have depression. How are you going to treat yourself? Rather, it begins like this: “I've noticed you've been pretty bum lately. What do you think it is due to?
- Be patient. Sometimes it takes a while for someone to open up to another, so give your friend as much time as he or she needs. Just try not to shut down the conversation.
Step 7. Remember that you cannot "cure" their depression
You may want to help your friend as much as you can, but remember that you cannot "cure" him. You can encourage him to seek help and support him, however, fundamentally it will be his decision to want to improve himself.
Step 8. Talk about the steps to take
Once your friend acknowledges that they have depression, you can start talking to them about what to do about it. Does your friend want to deal with a major problem in his life or does he just want to spend more time with his loved ones and get back to socializing?
Part 2 of 5: Helping Your Loved One Seek Help
Step 1. You must recognize when your friend should seek professional help
Before both of you try to solve the problem on your own, you have to understand that untreated depression is very serious. You can help your friend without any problem, but you should see a mental health professional. There are different types of therapists, each offering a different skill or specialty. These include counseling psychologists, clinical psychologists, and psychiatrists. You can go for one or a combination of two.
- Counseling Psychologists: Counseling psychology is a field of therapy that focuses on helping skills and helping those who have difficult times in their lives. This type of therapy can be short-term or long-term, usually focusing on the problem and targeting set goals.
- Clinical psychologists: They are trained to perform tests to confirm a diagnosis and therefore tend to focus more on psychopathology, or the study of mental or behavioral disorders.
- Psychiatrists: in their practice they can use psychotherapy and scales or examinations, but they are usually used when the patient wants to explore the option of medications. In most countries, only psychiatrists can prescribe medication.
Step 2. Give your loved one some references
To help him find a counselor, consider getting referrals from friends, relatives, religious community leaders, your local mental health center, or a doctor.
Other professional associations such as the college of psychologists in your country may have the search means to locate their members in your city
Step 3. Offer to make an appointment for your loved one
If your friend is not very convinced about going to a specialist, you might consider making an appointment for him. Sometimes it can be difficult for someone to take the first step, so they may need your help to do so.
Step 4. Accompany your loved one to their first date
You can accompany him to the doctor's office to make him more comfortable.
If you speak directly with your mental health professional, you may be able to briefly tell them about the symptoms you observed in your friend. But yes, remember that it is very likely that the therapist wants to talk with the patient alone
Step 5. Encourage your loved one to seek a good counseling session
If the first session doesn't go well for your friend, encourage him to find another counselor. A bad counseling experience can prompt someone to drop everything. Remember that not all mental health professionals are the same. If your loved one did not feel comfortable with their counselor, help them find another.
Step 6. Suggest different types of therapy
There are three main therapies that have most consistently shown a benefit for patients, and they are: cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy and psychodynamic therapy. Your loved one could benefit from different types of therapy depending on their situation.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): The goal of CBT is to challenge and change the beliefs, attitudes, and preconceptions that are believed to be behind depressive symptoms and effect a change in maladaptive behaviors.
- Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): IPT focuses on coping with life changes, developing social skills, and solving other interpersonal problems that may contribute to depressive symptoms. IPT could be particularly effective if a one-off event (for example, the death of someone) is the cause of a recent depressive episode.
- Psychodynamic Therapy (DST): This type of therapy aims to help a person understand and deal with feelings resulting from unfinished conflicts by identifying unconscious feelings.
Step 7. Suggest the possibility of taking medication
Antidepressants can help the patient feel better while undergoing counseling. Antidepressants affect neurotransmitters to try to counteract problems in their creation and / or use by the brain. Antidepressants are categorized based on the neurotransmitters they affect.
- The most common types are SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, and tricyclics. The names of some of the most widely used antidepressants can be found with a simple online search.
- If antidepressants don't work, your therapist may recommend an antipsychotic. There are 3 antipsychotics (aripiprazole, quetiapine, risperidone) and a combination therapy antidepressants and antipsychotics (fluoxetine, olanzapine) approved to be used together with a standard antidepressant to treat depression when antidepressant use is not enough.
- The psychiatrist might suggest trying some other medications until one seems to work. Some antidepressants are counterproductive in certain people. It is important that you and your loved one monitor how medications affect you. Pay special attention to any negative or annoying changes in her mood immediately. Switching to another type of drug will usually fix the problem.
Step 8. Pair medication with psychotherapy
To maximize the effect of the medications, your loved one should continue to see a mental health professional regularly while taking them.
Step 9. Promote patience
Both you and your friend will need to be patient. The effects of counseling and medication are gradual. Your loved one will need to attend regular sessions for at least a few months before seeing a positive effect. No one should give up before counseling and medication have time to work.
Generally speaking, it will take at least 3 months to see any lasting effects from an antidepressant
Step 10. Determine if you should request an authorization to discuss your treatment
Depending on your relationship with that person, you may need to assess whether you can request authorization to discuss their treatment with their doctor. Normally, medical records and data are confidential, but when it is a mental health matter, there are special considerations regarding the privacy of those records.
- Your loved one will most likely need to give you written authorization so that you can discuss their treatment.
- If your friend has not yet reached the age of majority, their parents or guardians will have the permission to talk about their treatment.
Step 11. Make a list of medications and treatments
Make a list of the medications your loved one takes, including the dosages. List the treatments you receive, too. This will help ensure that he or she follows their treatments and complies with taking their medications.
Step 12. Communicate with the other people in your friend's support network
You shouldn't be the only person trying to help your loved one. Get in touch with trusted relatives, friends, or religious advisers. If the person suffering from depression is an adult, be sure to first ask for permission to talk to others and gather support. By talking to these people, you will learn more information and perspectives on your loved one. This will help you feel less alone with the situation.
Be careful when telling others about your friend's depression. People can judge if they don't fully understand the problem. Be careful who you tell
Part 3 of 5: Communicating with your loved one
Step 1. Be a good listener
The best thing you can do is listen to your loved one talk about their depression. Prepare to hear everything he has to tell you. Try not to be too shocked even if he says something really terrible, or he will close with you. Be open and caring. Listen without judging.
- If your loved one doesn't want to talk, try asking them a few subtle questions so they can open up with you, for example, ask them how the week went.
- When your loved one tells you something sad, encourage him by saying: "It was surely very difficult for you to tell me" or "Thank you for trusting me."
Step 2. Give your friend your undivided attention
Put your cell phone away, look him in the eye and show him your 100% effort to be part of the conversation.
Step 3. You should know what to say
What someone with depression needs most is compassion and understanding. Not only do you have to be a good listener, but you also have to be sensitive to your words when talking about depression. Here are a few useful phrases for when you talk with your loved one:
- You are not alone in this. I'm here to help you.
- I understand that yours is a disease, which is to blame for those thoughts and feelings.
- You may not believe it now, but your current state will change.
- I may not understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and I want to help you.
- You are important to me. Your life is important to me.
Step 4. Don't tell him to "wake up."
Telling someone to "wake up" or "relax" is usually not very helpful. Be sensitive: imagine feeling that the world is against you and that everything is falling apart. What would you like them to tell you? Keep in mind that depression is a very real painful state for those who suffer from it. Don't use phrases like the following:
- Everything is in your mind.
- We all go through difficult times like this.
- No problem. Stop worrying.
- Look on the bright side.
- You have a whole life ahead of you, why do you want to die?
- Stop playing crazy.
- What do you have?!
- Weren't you supposed to have healed by now?
Step 5. Don't argue about the way your loved one feels
Don't try to convince him that his feelings are wrong. The feelings of the person with depression may well be irrational, but telling them they are wrong or arguing with them is not the solution. Rather, try saying, “Too bad you feel this way. Is there anything I can do?".
It should be noted that your loved one may not be honest about how bad they feel. Many people with depression are ashamed of their condition and lie about it. If you ask him if he's okay and he says yes, consider rephrasing the question to find out how he really feels
Step 6. Help your loved one see the bright side of things
When you talk to him or her, try to be as positive as possible. Don't be forcibly encouraged, just show him a better angle of his life and situation.
Part 4 of 5: Supporting Your Loved One
Step 1. Stay in touch
Call him on the phone, write him an encouraging card or letter, or visit him at home. This will show him that you will be his support no matter what. There are many different ways to keep in touch with him or her.
- Make it a goal to see him as often as you can without overwhelming him.
- If you work, email him to see how he's doing.
- If you can't call him every day, please text as often as possible.
Step 2. Take your loved one for a walk
You may feel better, even just a little, if you spend time away from home. It can be extremely difficult for someone with depression to leave home. Offer to do something he likes to do outside.
They don't necessarily have to train for a marathon. They only have to walk for 20 minutes. You may feel a little better after being active outside
Step 3. Go to nature
Some studies have shown that connecting with nature can reduce stress and improve mood. According to a study, walking in green areas can help the mind to enter a meditative state, which helps to relax more and improve your mood.
Step 4. Enjoy the sun
Exposure to the sun will raise the vitamin D levels of the person with depression, which will help improve their mood. Even sitting on a bench in the sunshine for a few minutes can go a long way.
Step 5. Encourage your friend to pursue new hobbies
Your friend may be distracted, even momentarily, from his depression if he has something to do that excites him. While you shouldn't force him to start practicing skydiving or learn Japanese thoroughly, encouraging him to pursue some hobbies can help distract him from his depression.
- Find a few uplifting books for your friend to read. You can read together in the park or talk about the title.
- Bring him a movie by your favorite director. Your friend might fall in love with a new range of movies, and you'll keep them company while they watch them.
- Suggest that he express his artistic side. Drawing, painting, or poetry can help you express yourself. It is also something that you can do together.
Step 6. Recognize your friend's accomplishments
Every time your friend achieves a goal, acknowledge and congratulate them. Even small goals, like taking a shower or going to the grocery store, can be meaningful to someone who is depressed.
Step 7. You must be present to improve the daily life of your loved one
You can encourage him to try new things and get out of the house, but sometimes it's best to be around to get things done on a day-to-day basis. This can help your loved one feel less alone.
- Being there for the simplest activities, like making lunch or watching television, can make a big difference.
- You can lighten the load of the person with depression by helping him with minor tasks, for example, running errands, buying food and basic necessities, cooking for him, helping him clean or wash his clothes.
- Depending on the situation, giving him healthy physical contact (for example, a hug) can help him feel better.
Part 5 of 5: Avoiding exhausting yourself by taking care of it
Step 1. Get away from time to time
It may frustrate you whenever your well-meaning advice and comforts are met with sullenness and resistance. It's important that you don't take your loved one's pessimism personally. It is a symptom of the disease, not a reflection of you. If you feel like his pessimism is consuming too much of your energy, take a break and dedicate yourself to doing something stimulating and enjoyable.
- This will be especially important if you live with the sick person and you have trouble taking a vacation.
- Direct your frustration at the illness, not the person.
- Even if you're not meeting, be sure to check in at least once a day to ask how she's doing.
Step 2. Take good care of yourself
It's easy to get absorbed in someone else's problems and lose sight of yourself. Being with a person with depression can demoralize you or highlight your own problems. Recognize that your frustration, helplessness, and anger are perfectly normal.
- If you have too many personal problems to solve, you may not be able to fully help your friend. Don't use your friend's problems to avoid your own.
- Recognize if your effort to help him prevents you from enjoying your life or taking care of the matters most important to you. If your friend has become too dependent on you, it will not be healthy for anyone.
- If you feel that your friend's depression is seriously affecting you, seek help. We recommend finding a counselor for yourself.
Step 3. Give yourself time to live apart from your loved one
While you are an exceptional friend because you provide emotional and physical support, remember to set aside time for yourself so that you can enjoy a healthy and relaxing life.
Get together with many friends and family without depression, and enjoy their company
Step 4. Be healthy
Get outside, train for a 5K, or go to the farmers market. Do what it takes to maintain your inner strength.
Step 5. Give yourself time to laugh
If you can't make your loved one laugh even a little, take the time to meet up with funny people, watch a comedy, or read something hilarious on the internet.
Step 6. Don't feel guilty about enjoying your life
Your friend has depression, not you, and you are allowed to enjoy your existence. Remind yourself that if you are not in your best frame of mind, you will not be able to help your friend.
Step 7. Learn about depression
One of the most useful steps you can take is to educate yourself about this disease. For the patient with this disorder, the feelings are very vivid. If you don't have depression or another mental disorder, it can be very difficult to relate to their feelings. Read books or websites about depression, or talk to a depression counselor.
|Organization||Phone number||Electronic address|
|SAPTEL - Mexico||55 5259-8121||[email protected]|
|Hope phone - Spain||91 459 00 50||[email protected]|
|Help Association - Argentina||(11) 4822-9966||[email protected]|
|Hope phone - Colombia||57 4) 448 2945||[email protected]|
|Hope phone - Peru||51 1 273 8026||[email protected]|
|Hope phone - Chile||56 4222 1200||[email protected]|
|Hope phone - Venezuela||0241-8433308||[email protected]|
|24 Hour - Crisis Clinic Line - USA||866-427-CRISIS (4747)||[email protected]|
|Aysana Center - Ecuador||84 0040 08||[email protected]|
|Hope phone - Bolivia||902 500 002||[email protected]|
|Depression Recovery Group||--||[email protected]|
|BeFrienders Worldwide||--||[email protected]|
Remind your loved one that they will never be alone and that if they need to talk to someone, you will support them
Observe possible suicidal gestures or threats.
Sentences like "I wish I was dead" or "I don't want to live anymore" should be taken seriously. Depression patients who talk about suicide are not doing it to get attention. If the person you are concerned about is suicidal, be sure to tell a doctor or trained professional as soon as possible.