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How to help someone with depression

Posted by Mandy Donnison
on 14 Feb 2023

What’s included?

  1. Introduction
  2. How to spot signs of depression in others
  3. Top 5 tips for helping someone with depression
  4. Getting someone treatment for depression
  5. How can Delamere help someone with depression

Being told to ‘cheer up’ or ‘snap out of it’ isn’t helpful for someone with depression. If only they knew how to escape the relentless feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Depression can make it hard for people to find any joy in life. They withdraw. Become shadows of their former selves. Feel sad, empty and worthless. They may not even realise they have a recognised clinical disorder. So, how do you help someone with depression?

Firstly, let them know they’re not alone. Depression is extremely common. It affects 1 in 6 people worldwide causing destruction to work, school and family life. Secondly, it isn’t their fault. Depression is mental health disorder that progresses over time. People don’t choose to be depressed and can’t overcome it alone. One of the best ways to help someone with depression is to listen with an open mind and be supportive without judgement.

woman consoling a man by touching his hand, both sitting down and light coming through the window

Want to help someone who is depressed? Speak to Delamere

Spotting signs of depression in others

Is my partner avoiding me? Why is Mum crying all the time? There are lots of reasons people may be acting out of character, especially in the wake of a life-altering event. How do you know if they’re just a bit low or chronically depressed. You can start with the length of time they’ve had symptoms. It’s normal to feel upset and down when something distressing happens. But if someone shows persistent signs of depression most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks, that’s your cue to talk to them.  

Signs that someone is depressed:

  • Constant sadness and low mood
  • Being tearful 
  • Hopelessness and helplessness
  • Struggling with decisions
  • Feeling joyless
  • Anxiety and overthinking
  • Self-harm or suicidal thoughts

Physically, you may notice they lose or gain weight, complain of frequent aches and pains or appear more tired than usual. Someone who is depressed will typically avoid contact with others and not be able to find pleasure in their usual interests. In older people you might find they stop buying or cooking food, have poor personal hygiene or refuse company. 

Top 5 tips for helping someone with depression 

There are several things you can do to help someone with depression. While only they have ultimate control over their recovery, you can play an important role. Even small steps you take to support someone’s mental health and well-being can go a long way to getting the help they need. 

1. Talk to them and show you care

If you think someone may be struggling try to get them to open up. Don’t put them on the spot but chat to them about other things and give them the space to talk if they want to. Listen without interrupting. Let them share their feelings. Don’t judge. Just be there. It might be helpful to schedule regular check-ins to keep an eye on their progress. Be sure to tell them when you notice any positive changes to reinforce their good work. 

2. Encourage them to move more

Rather than just relying on antidepressants, research shows alternative therapies can help someone with depression. Exercise has proven to be both a cost-effective and convenient way to reduce depressive symptoms as well as improving other impaired functions, including the cardiovascular system and cognitive ability. You can help someone with depression by suggesting going for a walk, taking them swimming or taking part in group activities, which are also beneficial for overcoming isolation.  

3. Help them to practise self-care 

When someone is depressed, they forget to do the basics. Not brushing their hair or cleaning teeth. Drinking more alcohol or relying on prescription drugs to get through the day. It is widely known that lifestyle factors, such as poor diet and substance abuse are risk factors for depression and could actually make existing symptoms worse. Help the person with depression to adopt a healthy routine by planning regular mealtimes and early bedtimes. Anything you can do together that fosters good self-care is beneficial. 

4. Keep in regular contact

Social isolation is a known symptom of depression. The suffering person is likely to withdraw from interactions with friends and stop taking part in social activities. While the last thing they want is for you to throw them a pity party, you can help someone with depression by simply keeping in touch. Regular phone calls or planned visits can help to keep the communication channels open and give them the outlet they need. 

5. Look after yourself

Living with a depressed person can have a negative effect on your own mental health and well-being. You may feel anger towards them, be fearful about what the future holds or feel let down in your relationship. This is totally normal. Take care of your own needs, physically and mentally, to make sure you’re in the best place to support them. As the saying goes, “Put your mask on first before helping others”. 

Getting someone treatment for depression

Not everyone recognises they are depressed or indeed that they may need treatment. You could start by suggesting a GP visit to ask about medication or signpost them towards local support groups. Depression is multi-faceted and can be complex to treat. As it affects many areas of an individual’s health a holistic approach to treatment involving a combination of psychotherapy, medication and complementary therapies offers the best chance of lasting recovery. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy based on how thoughts and feelings are linked to actions and reactions. It can be a useful tool for someone with depression as it helps them to break down overwhelming feelings into more manageable parts. As well as treating depression, it can also help with other related conditions such as insomnia and alcohol misuse. 

If your loved one has developed an alcohol or drug addiction as a result of their depression, you may want to stage an intervention. This involves a group of family and friends speaking to the person individually and as a group to encourage them to receive professional treatment. Organising treatment on a residential rehab programme helps to tackle the physical impact of substance abuse leaving a clean slate to begin the important work of intensive therapy. 

How can Delamere help a loved one with depression? 

We provide a range of services to support people with mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, at our purpose-built wellness retreat in Cheshire. Our tranquil forest setting has been specifically designed to help people relax, restore and focus on getting better. 

Delamere’s holistic therapists can help you stage an intervention, if necessary, and can support your loved one with overcoming any associated addiction. We treat every case on an individual basis and will work out a programme that best suits your loved one’s needs. Access to good nutrition, plenty of exercise and rest support every aspect of recovery.

As well as providing psychotherapy on a one-to-one and group basis, we use a variety of evidence-based practices for treating depression. Through meditation and mindfulness, breathwork and grounding techniques, music, art and equine therapy, we help people to understand the reasons for their depression and grow beyond it. 

If you are concerned about someone’s depression, call us confidentially to speak to a member of the team today. Contact Delamere

About the author: Mandy Donnison

Mandy manages our admin, HR and finance functions here at Delamere. Find out more about Mandy on our team page.

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