Need assistance helping someone with depression? It can be tricky and difficult to know how to assist someone when they are in a depressive episode.

I have personally uttered the ignorant words “just stop being sad” to individuals I have come across with depression, including family members. It is disappointing yet enlightening because it gives me personal experience to be able to inform others of why NOT to tell someone “just stop being sad” and how to help someone with depression.

 “Don’t you think they have tried that?”. I have come across many clients (both in case work and therapy) whom claim their goal is to “stop being sad”.

Most of them have “tried everything to get better” but cannot manage to get out of bed due to depression making them a prisoner in their own home.

Related Post: Tips To Cope With Anxiety

Depression episodes effect almost 7% of the population with less than that actually seeking treatment. Through medication, therapy, education and other supports those diagnosed with depression symptoms can get better or symptoms subside all together.

There are many reasons some individuals experience depression: from trauma to death of a loved one,their health, drugs or genetics.

I say all of that to say, that when you witness someone going through an episode, it is not appropriate to belittle or ignore their symptoms.

You may notice your friend:

  • Losing interest in activities they once did
  • Having Insomnia/ Hypersomnia
  • Has a improper diet
  • Lack of self-care (hygiene, cleanliness of home etc)
  • No energy or lack of concentration
  • Guilty thoughts
  • Suicidal thoughts

*this is not a comprehensive list

There are few things you can do to help your loved one:

Tip 1 Helping Someone With Depression:

Research more about it

Understand that they would “feel better” if they could. Researching the illness will help you understand that this is not a weakness and it can be treated.

Realize that you are not a professional and that is okay! You will be limited in the amount of information you have but the most important thing you need to remember is to refer them to a professional who can help.

Tip 2 Helping Someone With Depression:

Be there

Be willing to openly communicate with them about what is happening and that you have noticed a change in behavior. Be prepared to listen!

Do not give “pad answers” (as a co-worker calls them) because they can be demeaning to their current state. Instead, if you can, offer solutions that the person can apply to what they perceive the problem is.

Tip 3 Helping Someone With Depression:

Know your limitations!

Reach out to mental health professionals, other family members or whomever understands more than you do what this person is experiencing.

It is also okay to seek help for yourself. If you are a caretaker, spouse, child or the like of someone with depression join support groups or seek counseling for yourself.

What are somethings you have noticed helped someone else during their crisis?

Check out this video of Sabrina Benaim on “Explaining My Depression to My Mother”

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63 Comments on Helping Someone With Depression

  1. I always try to be around for people who are depressed. I know it can’t be easy. So I just remind them I’m around if they need it.

  2. Thanks, Jess for these great tips. I think the word depressed is used so loosely, almost as a slang in everyday conversation, So when someone who is actually depressed expresses that, they’re oftentimes brushed off and not truly heard.

  3. I suffer with depression and have done for a number of years and I have been told to “cheer up” many times, I am a very positive person with a ready smile for everyone most of the time but when I have an ‘episode’ I become very withdrawn and loose my ability to stay positive. My closest around me know immediately that something is wrong and offer support, I am very lucky to have this. I always offer support and advice (although I am not a professional) to someone who displays the symptoms of depression and to be honest I take as much from it as I hope the other person does. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything at all, a hug or just sitting with the person is enough for them to know that what they are feeling is ok. Depression is a terrible affliction but knowing that there are people out there who can support you is excellent. Thank you Jess ❤️

  4. One of the main thing I took is that it’s easier said than done. Advice like “just stop being sad” “be happy” “there are others in worst positions than you” is damaging as it’s invaliding your emotions and your right to feel them. Emotions and thoughts don’t have an on and off switch and are very complex. For treating mental health it’s vital to know what support services are available to someone struggling, and what one would be most appropriate for a particular individual as everyone’s different.

    Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures

  5. That’s crazy that only 7% seeks treatment on depression. It is depressingly low. Definitely seeking professional help and doing research and also helping and listening to the ones need help is great idea.

  6. Most people don’t care nor are equipped to handle those suffering with depression and so one gets ignorant statements. But once you know that you suffer from depression it’s up to you to get the tools to help yourself so you don’t rely on others to help you find a way out.

  7. I think that depression has become a serious problem recently. I’m a teacher and I’ve noticed that there are quite a few students suffering from such problems at school. If we notice that our dear ones struggle with bad thoughts, we should immediately take some actions.

  8. That’s terrible and there are lots of people feeling that way. The worse feeling in the World I guess. Very good article.

  9. Depression is a hard topic. Even if you have gone through it, since everyone is different you never know truly wheat someone is feeling. I think the best advice is just being there and expressing that you care and love the person.

  10. This is wonderful topic. Nowadays, the issue of depression is growing bigger most of the youth. So, this article help us to stop depression or sadness. Thank you for sharing these with us!

  11. Thank you so much for this post. I think so many people are ignorant enough to think that you can just stop being depressed. It really is a hard situation to pull yourself out of. My sister recently went through post-partum depression and it was heart wrenching to watch.

  12. IT’s always best to seek help when needed. I realized the importance of a support group like a few years ago – may it be with family, friends, or a group of people… It maybe a hard task to actually “be there” but with the right people behind you, everything can go to its proper place and pace.

  13. Wonderful advice. It’s great that you are bringing awareness to this topic because sometimes it can be so hidden from the world. Love that you mentioned to “be there” – I’ve personally seen someone go through a depressive episode and he admits to this day that the only reason he got out of it was that he felt like people were there for him.

  14. This is such a great article. I struggle with anxiety and agree that telling me to just let it go makes me even more anxious. Because you can’t. If I could I would and sometimes I have no idea what has set me off. I wish for the day that people recognize that mental illness as an illness instead of a self inflicted condition or state of mind. Great read.

  15. When it comes to depression people undergo alot sometimes knowingly and others unknowingly especially this day and era. Others seek help,some don’t even know they are suffering. Thanks for the insight.Thanks for this, quiet helpful.

  16. I know so many people experience this,but we have to know that this is all spiritual. These are spirits that causes depression, anxiety, sickness, and all mental illness. Once we realize this and seek the creator Yah in prayer and using the plants that was created for us, we can get them off of us. They thrive in negative vibration and in our low state. We have to lift our vibration by the stuff I mentions and cutting out negativity from our lives.

  17. this article is so relevant especially this season. as much as we enjoy the holidays some people hate as it makes them even feel more alone! this is an issue that must be addressed more I hope!

  18. I have a history of depression going back to childhood, so this conversation is needed. Depression teaches you that nothing is just black and white. Nor can you be turned off and on like a light switch. Great insight!

  19. It’s so easy for people so say “stop being sad” when they don’t understand that you can’t really control the way you feel when you have depression. There are so many things that are hidden behind a smiley face, and it’s so important to go and talk to a doctor if you feel depressed. As this mental illness can be defeated with help.

  20. Mental health awareness is important for everyone. Being sad is very different from being depressed so tips on recognizing the difference is very important.

  21. This is a great time of year to share this kind of content. So many suffer from depression and this is good advice on how to help those who do. Thanks taking the time to write about your thoughts and experiences and hoe you’ve discovered you can help.

  22. Depression can kill your emotion. I/be been through that before I know what it feels like we need to aware that people have mental care awareness to spread to all of people who have experiencing mental illness. great post!

  23. Great post. You’ll be surprised how many people around you have depression. It seems we are less and less happy and less and less real friends and family. Is it because we spent way too much time on our digital devices? Please care for your friends and family.

  24. the new age of “wanting to be the best”and “finding ourselves ASAP” while comparing our journey to the rest of the world due to social media pressure can really add up to this sadness… but yes, it is not too late to be aware and acknowledge these symptoms… and to seek help. It can be easier said than done, but really… the social support system really matters!

  25. This is some really great advice. There are so many times that people have just given the advice to stop being sad. It definitely is not that easy.

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  27. Excellent post. As someone who has horrible anxiety and depression, being told to just ‘let it go’ isn’t going to help, and is actually just going to make me more upset. Such an important post for anyone to read, especially those who don’t suffer from MI.

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