Depression in Others

What to Do If You Suspect Someone You Know Is Suffering With Depression

Unless you are a licensed psychotherapist or medical doctor, if you suspect someone is suffering from depression, the best course of action is to encourage him or her to seek professional help. Do not expect an immediate positive reaction since many people with depression do not realize, or will not accept, they are depressed.

You can offer emotional support by offering understanding and patience when the individual seems to be acting unreasonable or irrationally. Encouragement is always welcome as is genuine acts of affection. Do not put them down when they express feelings, rather point out what the reality of a given situation may be and offer them additional encouragement.

Invite your depressed friend for walks, maybe trips to the movies or to places you know they enjoy going. When they refuse, do not give up. Using gentle persuasion may eventually get them finally to agree. Since most people suffering depression typically feel like a failure, or have a sense of helplessness and have no hope, making too many demands on them may increase their feelings of being a failure.

Try to get them involved in things they used to find happiness is such as sporting events, hobbies and religious events. Again, do not press them to get into too much too fast. Above all else, never accuse someone you suspect of being depressed of faking an illness or of just being lazy to get out of doing things. Additionally, and equally important, never ignore talk of suicide of other self-mutilating acts.

Oftentimes depressed individuals need help in getting the help they need. Gentle encouragement is used to persuade him or her to seek professional help, if the depression is so severe that talking with family and friends is not helping. Encouraging the depressed person to seek additional help may be successful if you offer to go with them the first time. Usually a person with depression needs diversion to take their mind off whatever is causing the depression and equally important is their desire to not be alone.


You should also discourage them from make life-changing decisions while depressed. Getting married or divorced, or leaving a job are decisions that should not be made unless they receive input from an objective friend or family member. Additionally, do not expect a person suffering from depression to simply snap out of it. Healing depression takes time and the right treatment from a professional. Expecting the depression to miraculously go away is not going to help you or the depressed person.

If you’re successful in convincing the depressed person to seek treatment, always offer encouragement and your company when they are involved in the sessions. They may be too embarrassed to have you present, and the doctor may warn against it, but simply accompanying them to the doctor’s office will usually be all the encouragement they need to realize you are there for them during their time of need.

By being a true friend to a depressed person, they may lose some of the feelings of being worthless and realize that at least one other person thinks they are pretty special.