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Helping a Loved One with Depression

If someone you care about is depressed, you may feel helpless. Maybe you're watching a formerly active or happy person withdraw from others or you're seeing a good friend lose interest in favorite activities. The change in your loved one's or friend's behavior may be so big that you feel you no longer know the person.

Here are some things you can do to help:

  • Help the person get treatment or stay in treatment. This is the best thing you can do.

  • Support and encourage the person.

  • Learn about depression. Know the facts and myths about it.

  • Be aware of your own and other people's negative attitudes (stigma) toward depression. Do what you can to fight stigma and teach people about depression.

  • Be aware of other health problems the person may have.

Help with the basics

You can also help the person have healthy habits. Encourage the person to:

  • Limit alcohol and not use drugs. Having a substance abuse problem makes treating depression harder. Both problems need to be treated.

  • Be active. People who are fit usually have less anxiety, depression, and stress than people who aren't fit.

  • Deal with stress. Too much stress can help trigger depression, but simple things can relieve stress.

  • Get enough sleep. Sleep can help mood and stress levels.

  • Eat a balanced diet. This helps the body deal with tension and stress. Whole grains, dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and protein are part of a balanced diet.

Helping yourself

If you are spending a lot of time helping or caring for someone who has depression, find your own support. This can help you deal with the illness. These caregiver tips also can help you:

  • Don't help too much. A common mistake caregivers make is providing too much care. Even if they don't say so, people like to help themselves. Take some time off.

  • Don't do it alone. Ask others to help you, or join a support group. The more support you have, the more help you can give.

  • Get help from a local organization. Your city or state may have programs to help you. Ask at your local or state health department. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides contact information for support organizations nationwide. Go to and choose "Find Support."

Does your loved one have thoughts about suicide?

If you or a loved one has thoughts about death or suicide, call 911 or the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) and press 1, or use other emergency services. Or you can chat with a trained counselor online at

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 7/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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