How to Provide Care and Support for Someone Who Is Depressed

Watching a friend or family member struggle with depression can make you feel helpless and alone. You may be uncertain about the right thing to say or do, and seeing someone you care about in distress can take its toll on you as well.

But there are ways that you can help make life easier for your loved one and yourself. The first step is to recognize the problem and not let it go ignored. Signs of depression should never be dismissed or overlooked as simply a typical part of aging.

Recognize the Problem

Some people with depression may be unaware of their symptoms and think that how they feel is normal. Some may know that something is wrong but not realize what it is. Others may be too embarrassed or despondent to deal with the problem.

If your loved one has been showing the following symptoms for at least two weeks, he or she may be depressed:

  • overwhelming sadness, grief, guilt, or hopelessness
  • loss of interest and pleasure in normally enjoyable activities
  • unexplained crying spells
  • insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • lack of energy or fatigue
  • dramatic changes in appetite and weight (either weight gain or loss)
  • feeling either restless or slowed down
  • recurrent thoughts or mentions of suicide or a suicide attempt

If you see these signs, tell the person that you are concerned. Suggest that he or she make an appointment with a primary care physician or mental health provider. You can help by offering to schedule the appointment, going along to the doctor's office, and preparing a list of questions.

Publication Review By: Karen L. Swartz, M.D.

Published: 18 Aug 2013

Last Modified: 18 Aug 2013