How to Support a Depressed Friend or Partner

It can be hard to know how to help a partner or friend who is feeling depressed. The following suggestions might help with this:

1. Find out the kind of depression they are suffering from. Symptoms of clinical depression include sleep difficulties, loss of appetite, a desire to isolate themselves, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, suicidal tendencies and an inability to determine the cause of their depression.

Those with situational depression may have some of the same symptoms but they generally know why they feel the way they do. Also, once the specific issue is resolved, they are able to function normally again.

2. Be available to listen, or to just be there for them. Sometimes you don’t need to say a word. Don’t offer opinions; don’t give them advice; don’t be judgmental. Be kind and understanding; be gentle empathic, patient, accepting and compassionate.

3. Take them out of their environment as a change of scenery can help to change our mood. It doesn’t have to be somewhere that is wildly exciting. Just a walk by the river or a coffee at the mall is often enough to shift our mood for a while.

4. Don’t comment on their lifestyle (habits and patterns). Comments like “You ought to try and sleep more … or exercise … or change your diet …” are likely to hurt, and shut the person down. They show a lack of understanding, and send the message: “It’s your fault.”

5. Encourage them to seek out professional help. A friend or family member can be a real lifeline. We need a sense of belonging, and to know that others care.   However, objective, insightful support from a professional counsellor can help them deal with the real issues in a more effective way.

18 thoughts on “How to Support a Depressed Friend or Partner

  1. I like the “help them with a change of scenery” idea. Just being with them in nature, or a quiet coffee shop for a little while could work wonders. Anything to break the routine for self-isolation. But like you said, “don’t judge.” One of my favorite quotes on earth is by the anthropologist Ann Dunham, former US President Barrack Obama’s mother: “ Don’t conclude before you understand. After you understand, don’t judge.” Blessings!

    PS. I am back home, after “being there” for my son. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you’re back home, and were able to be there for your son at a time of crisis. I’m sure that made all the difference in the world. Yes, not judging is absolutely crucial … And, personally, I find that a change of scenery works wonders!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so accurate thanks :). I’ve really learned this in the last two years and that was partly down to reading it here. Even when you’re somebody in the same situation it’s not always obvious, as people are different. But these are the universal basics of practical empathy here, haha. Empathy for dummies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In my own dealings with a loved one’s depression, I have found help from some of the points in #2 and #3. Kindness, patience, and understanding combined with short excursions for coffee or a drive have made a difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing this. I’m so glad you have been there for your loved one. We need each other. We need kindness and understanding. We need someone to takes us to a different place so we can start to feel renewed inside.

      Liked by 1 person

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