When a loved one is experiencing depression, support and positive, healthy encouragement can play a big part in their recovery. Helping them to cope with their depression can also mean helping them reduce their own negative thoughts as well as regaining their energy, optimism, and quality of life. However, being with a loved one who is going through depression can also be exhausting if you are not mindful of your own needs.

These guidelines can help you support a depressed person in their recovery while maintaining your own emotional balance.

By recognizing the signs of depression, you can be a great help to a friend or loved one who may be just starting to grapple with it; they might feel miserable or overwhelmed without knowing why.

Here are 10 ways you can help someone today with depression:

  1. Be aware of the signs.
  2. Share what you’ve observed and let the person know why you’re concerned. It is important to let the person know that he or she is loved, deserves to feel better, and getting the proper treatment will help them feel better.
  3. Practice compassionate listening by being patient and encouraging, e.g., “I am here for you.”, rather than minimizing the problem, e.g., “This is just a phase; it will pass.”
  4. Encourage them to seek treatment or, in the case of a depressed child or adolescent, help the young person get treatment.
  5. Recommend helping resources, such as therapy, online resources, or depression hotlines.
  6. Offer to accompany your loved one for a physical (to rule out a physical illness) and to any other appointments to keep them on task.
  7. Act as a mediator if the depressed person is too young or ill to provide necessary information to a therapist.
  8. Arrange for hospitalization if the depressed person is suicidal or having hallucinations or delusions.
  9. If the depressed person is functional and refuses treatment, seek the assistance of others — friends, doctor, clergy, relatives — who might convince him or her that treatment is needed and will help.
  10. If you have encouraged the depressed person to seek treatment and they refuse, and the person is having a demoralizing impact on those around him or her, further action is needed:
  • An employer might threaten personnel action unless the depressed employed gets treatment.
  • A husband or wife, with the assistance of a mental health specialist, can explore separation from their depressed spouse who is not willing to seek treatment.
  • Parents of a depressed adult can clarify, with the help of a mental health specialist, how much assistance to give their depressed offspring.
  • A depressed older person’s loved ones can help the depressed person by facilitating contact with a mental health specialist who has geriatric experience. This specialist may be willing to reach out to the depressed person through visiting the person at their home or by phone.

While it may not be easy, you can make a huge difference to the recovery of a person suffering from depression.