What to Do If a Loved One Is Depressed: A Guide to Providing Support

A friend trying to figure out What to Do If a Loved One Is Depressed

Watching a loved one struggle with depression can be deeply distressing. You may feel helpless, confused, and eager to help but uncertain of the best approach. Depression is more than just a bad day; it’s a persistent condition that can significantly affect one’s thoughts, feelings, and daily functions. Acknowledging your loved one’s experience without judgment and offering your support are crucial initial steps. This guide aims to equip you with strategies to effectively understand what to do if a loved one is depressed.

Table of Contents:

  1. Recognizing the Signs of Depression
  2. Starting the Conversation About Depression
  3. Providing Emotional Support
  4. Taking Care of Yourself and Finding Additional Resources

Recognizing the Signs of Depression

Understanding the signs of depression and what to do if a loved one is depressed is pivotal. Symptoms may include persistent sadness, lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities, noticeable changes in appetite or sleep, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, and trouble concentrating. Additionally, symptoms can extend to avoiding social events and activities usually enjoyed, experiencing physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause, having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, and facing challenges with speaking, thinking clearly, or making decisions. Moreover, changes in habits such as using more tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs than usual, and experiencing significant weight loss or gain can also be indicators. Remember, depression manifests differently in everyone; your loved one’s experience may vary. (Mind, 2023)

Starting the Conversation About Depression

Approaching a loved one about their mental health requires sensitivity and care, especially when figuring out what to do if a loved one is depressed. Choose a quiet, private time to talk, and express your concerns without implying blame. For example, you might say, “I’ve noticed you’ve been really down lately, and I’m worried about you. Is there anything you want to talk about?” Ensure they understand you’re coming from a place of love and concern, not judgment. This approach can help open up a dialogue, making it easier for them to share their feelings and experiences.

What to Say and What to Avoid

Avoid statements that minimize their feelings, like “just snap out of it” or “everyone feels that way sometimes.” Instead, use supportive language such as “You’re not alone in this,” and “I’m here for you.”

If a loved one needs more than a listening ear, visit Vanguard Behavioral Health for professional depression treatment in New Mexico.

A friend trying to figure out What to Do If a Loved One Is Depressed

Providing Emotional Support

Listening is one of the most powerful forms of support, especially when considering what to do if a loved one is depressed. Allow them to share as much or as little as they wish, without forcing the conversation. Showing patience and understanding can make a world of difference. Sometimes, the most effective way to support a loved one who is depressed is by helping them access professional resources. Gently suggest the benefits of seeking help from a mental health professional and offer to help them find a therapist or psychiatrist. It’s important to talk to the person about what you’ve observed and why you’re concerned, explaining that depression is a medical condition, not a flaw or weakness, and it generally improves with treatment. You can also offer to help prepare a list of questions for their first appointment with a health provider and express your willingness to assist by arranging appointments or going with them, perhaps even joining them in family therapy sessions if appropriate. Offer support by assisting with research for suitable mental health professionals or accompanying them to appointments, if they are open to it.

Taking Care of Yourself and Finding Additional Resources

Trying to figure out what to do when a loved one is depressed can be emotionally taxing. Ensure you are taking care of your own mental health as well. Set healthy boundaries, and don’t hesitate to seek support for yourself. It’s important to know your limits and communicate them. You can be supportive while also taking care of your own needs. Explore local support groups, both for your loved one and yourself. Many find solace and understanding in shared experiences. Reputable online resources can also offer guidance and support strategies.


Navigating the complexities of depression with a loved one requires patience, understanding, and informed action. By recognizing the signs of depression, initiating a supportive conversation, and encouraging professional help, you can provide meaningful support. Remember, self-care is also vital during this time. Together, with the right support and resources, healing and recovery are within reach.

For comprehensive guidance and depression treatment in NM, reach out to Vanguard Behavioral Health today. Your loved one deserves a chance at a happier, healthier life. Get Support Now.


Mind. (2023). Symptoms of Depression. Retrieved from https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/symptoms/Mayo Clinic Staff. (n.d.). Depression: Supporting a family member or friend. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20045943

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