8 Ways To Compassionately Support Someone With Depression

8 Ways To Compassionately Support Someone With Depression

depressionBetter Life

Depression is an incredibly difficult thing for a person to go through. Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, emptiness, loss of interest, and even physical aches and pains like headaches and cramps, are a constant reminder for someone with depression that they are afflicted.

If someone that you love has been diagnosed with depression, you may indeed be feeling some of these things yourself. Please understand that it is important for you to be there for your loved one, and that they need your support.

Here are 8 ways that you can compassionately support someone with depression.


#1: Research and understand what depression is

This is very important; as it helps you understand what the body and mind actually experience during depression.


For example, many people do not know that there are at least nine major classes of depression. These classes all have various symptoms and some have different treatment measures.

Understanding depression, depression types, and treatment options will put you in a better position to understand the illness. With this understanding, you are far less likely to criticize, judge, or otherwise, offend the person.

#2: Be there for them

After understanding the illness, you should be there for them. Be aware that your loved one’s mood maybe not so good, and that they may also feel tired or irritable. It’s important not to take this personally, as these are just byproducts of the illness.


Again, be there for support – not for tough love, giving advice, or other ulterior motives.

Your presence is the most important thing here.

#3: Show them the good things in their lives

Here, don’t tell them how they should feel – like that they should be grateful, positive, enthusiastic, etc. Simply tell them they are loved or cared for, and that people are thinking about them.

If you are not a particularly emotional person – that’s okay! Simply send them a text message or send them a letter or card, or post to their Facebook page.

#4: Release judgement

This is very important and needs to be completely understood. Most people with depression are already ashamed and feel weakened; criticizing or judging them makes an unfortunate situation even worse, and could possibly isolate you from your loved one.

Judging and criticizing a chemical-based illness is pointless and potentially very damaging to the afflicted and the relationship. Remember, depression is not a personality flaw; it is a medical illness with years of scientific research.


Contrary to popular belief, they don’t pity themselves and many of them are strong people.

#5: Be gentle with yourself

When a very close family member or friend is going through depression, it can be very difficult to come to terms with the fact that there is only so much that one can do.


Depression is a battle, and it can be a very long one. In the heat of this battle, you are certainly going to feel helpless and perplexed at times. Remember, you can equip and support the troops as much as possible, but they are the ones that fight.


You cannot solve this problem or heal them of this disorder – this is for the doctor or the therapist to do. The best thing you can do is show unconditional love and support while lending a helping hand.

#6: Take care of yourself, too

Helping someone as they battle depression can be exhausting and trying, both mentally and physically.

If you are in a weakened or stressed state, how effective will you be for your loved one?

You should make sure that your own needs are being met and that you are taking care of yourself too. Make sure that you are getting ample sleep, good nutrition, and getting in some fun time for yourself.

#7: Encourage treatment

Some people with depression don’t even realize that they have it, much less seek any kind of treatment. Often, those that are affected often feel ashamed to admit that they are. Some feel that the ailment can be overcome with just willpower or with time.

The truth is that it’s rare for people to get better without some type of treatment.  This can be through a doctor/counsellor, nutrition therapy, positive inspiration, or a combination of all.


With your knowledge of depression, you are well equipped to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression. Further, you are able to encourage them and discuss their options for treatment.

#8: Educate them

Here are some things that you can do to help…

– Discuss with the person what you’ve noticed and your concerns.

– Explain that you are more than willing to lend an ear if they want or need to talk.


– Explain that depression is a medical condition, caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. It is not a sign of weakness or some kind of character flaw and usually gets better with treatment.

– Discuss the various treatment types, including counseling.

– Offer to help set up and get them ready to take the next positive step.


Depression is a serious condition and needs to be treated ASAP. If your loved one is opposing treatment or shows troubling signs or behaviors, you should contact a doctor or other mental health professional for advice.

By compassionately supporting someone with depression you are better equipped to help your loved one through this difficult time.  You may even save their life.


34 thoughts on “8 Ways To Compassionately Support Someone With Depression

  1. One day after many years of the most excruciating pain and suffering… Somebody told me…. It's not you who needs a hug, it's that hurt little girl inside you that needs it! She needs to feel loved and protected. She needs to know that you will take her when she grows up. Because right now she is scared to death of growing up!!! I say this to you with tears of joy in my eyes. I immediately ran home and found a quiet place, sat down and closed my eyes. And there I was. 2-3 years old hiding behind a tree. I was hiding from myself because I was scared to death that the adult me would hurt this scared and lonely little girl!!! I started to call out my name and gently gained her trust until she came out of her hiding place and allowed me to carry her!!! I hugged her so tight. I told her how much I've missed her and how much I truly loved her. I carried her in my arms, kissed her, hugged her, told her what a wonderful human being she was and all of the wonderful things that awaited her in the future. I told her how I had three wonderful children, that she was going to love dearly and that she could play with all day ….Little by little I saw her face light up with joy, excitement and happiness. As I rocked her back and forward carrying her in my arms, she grabbed my hand, and I could almost see a bit of sadness in her face and I told her "don't worry sweetheart, I know that life is tough, but I will never let you fall!" And that day I gained myself back!!! Everyone's journey is different. And what might work for one person, won't necessarily work for another. But if you patiently endure, there will come a day were deliverance will come! That, I promise you!!

  2. The people who claim to know you the best will understand it the least. Don't be surprised or even take it to heart, that those around you will often treat you and it with contempt and ignorance. A good friend or even a stranger will often show more compassion than your own family. The best thing to know is that you can beat it or even just live with it, just keep walking the dog and it'll never bite you.

  3. I had depression most of my adult life. I discovered that really what was happening to me is that I am an emphath, most of the pain and suffering did not belong to me, it was not part of my reality, it belong to every suffering person that their energy was reaching my energy field. I did research about highly sensitive beings and started doing shielding and grounding myself.. Today, I feel my own feelings and empower the people that are struggling..Depression is a terrible mind body and spirit illness, you can change it, love yourself..

  4. Seriously tried all for years now. I have a friend battling with bipolar disorder started the sentence at first ” I have a good friend” but realized it was never her a good friend to me, both of us supporting each other. It was me , always there for her. I tried to consult, listen and be compassionate. In the last 15 years she has not changed, she does go to therapy. But she continues to abuse alcohol and overdose on her meds. I have asked to join her sessions with her therapist or even go to AA with her to no avail. I am sad to say I have had to leave the relationship because it became toxic for me. This was the hardest thing to do. But I felt as though I was manipulated at all times. When does it become apparent that you are no longer helping but enabling someone with mental health issues? Or when this person is just manipulating the disease and you? Trying to be understanding but cannot because my life begin to suffer. She never remembered anything I would say to her. It was always about her and her needs. Am I simply selfish? And ignorant ?

  5. i been lefted after 32 years realationship… Wish my "ex" had reed this for 14 years ago when my depression started !!! I have been lonely for 2 years now…try to get over his words that i have destroyed his life by always crying… He hate my crying and tears… under this 14 years sikness we have years of mutch ekonomic problems , lost a little daughter 1996 , .. then my best friend died 2002, its hard to go on and feel life is good again. ;(

  6. What do you do if they don't even want to see you or recieve any help at all? My big concern is getting drained by trying to reach out, and then I would spiral downward myself…

  7. The most important thing is to not ignore and judge people who have depression. I've had depression and social anxiety for many years and no one was ever there for me. Friends left me because they thought I became too awkward and sad and my family didn't believe me for having these problems at the age of 14. I've had to make enormous efforts to come out of it on my own, but there are the occasional relapses.
    If you know someone who has depression, love them unconditionally and you'll see them change but please don't ever desert them

  8. True. I know I am deeply depressed and a hug is what I want most. It helps too… I'd want a silent hug without questioning or anything though. Becuz nobody ever understands what goes on in the head n its too difficult to explain if asked to.

  9. Hi Kathy. You DO matter, more than you probably realise. But that is not what I wanted to tell you.
    When I read this it made me extremely sad. It is not only your story but also that it reminds me so much of my relationship with my mother. You see I went to Ireland twice. Once as an exchange student and two years later I came back as an au pair. And I guess it's true that I needed time to get away. But it by no means meant I didn't want any contact with my mother. My father called straight away after I arrived and kept on calling at least every week. My mam called me for my birthday and Christmas. I called her for her birthday and i talked to her when I called for my brothers' birthdays. Never inbetween. And I tell you why. I actually thought that she didn't care. I thought that SHE didn't mind that i was gone. We never called each other and therefore didn't bother to make the fisrt step. A few years later I guess I realise that maybe she wanted to give so much that she never could. …Please don't get me wrong…but there are always two sides to it. And maybe I should have called. How do you know they are not happy to hear from you if you do not call them either? In the end both of you suffer. I know this will not end what you are feeling. But maybe you will ring them…just once.

  10. too bad nothing helps…if no one cares. Doesn't matter that I've given birth to 3 kids (all grown now), they don't even phone. Loneliness sets in, and depression follows. Suicide an option? They wouldn't even miss me, so why don't I do it? I've tried, and all the pills I took I threw up, three times now over the past 55 years of my life. Depression is so hard to live with, when no one gives a sht. But, so what eh? It's only me, and I've learnt that what I want, isn't important. I've also learnt to never be happy. If I get feelings of happiness, something terrible happens within one day. ONE DAY. Always. I hate my birthday 'week'. Every year since before I left home at 9 years old (my father put me in the children's aid the day before my 10th birthday because my mother was beating me too much, and that time he saw the blood splatter, no bones broken THAT time), something real bad has happened. From the roof springing a leak, to failing a test, to my father dying, to finding my husband at the bottom of the stairs dead. It never fails. And you wonder why depression has a hold on some people? It just does. And you say 'seek treatment'? yeah, right. I'll get right on that. What sort of treatment does one get that solves loneliness? You say, go out, meet people, get involved. Tried that, all I do is get used and left worse off than before. Every time. EVERY time. So, do I ruin someone else's life, or just keep on with my solitary life. I am so scared my kids might see this…then I'd lose what little they have to do with me. So I have to edit. But so what, eh? My children were my life when they were little, and I so want them in my life now. I phone, they don't phone back. I go visit, was terribly sick in May when I drove to have a surprise birthday visit with my child…and they knew it…and it's now what, September…and no phone call yet to see if I'm alive or dead. Took me over 4 hours for a 1 1/2 hr drive. That's when nausea and diarrhoea join forces when you are driving down the highway. Does it matter? Only to me, so I guess the answer is 'no'. Feeling sorry for myself you say? No, just being realistic. A good night's sleep the answer? Would be nice…if I get 5 hours sleep all at once, it's a good night. I usually get 2-3hrs. I am so tired all the time. I hurt all the time. Fibromyalgia, herniated and bulging discs in my back, sciatica, tinnitus, tendinitis, Reynaud's phenomenon, celiac, migraines, the list goes on – and you've probably just proved my point. You don't give a care about what I care about, no one does. See a professional you say? Tried that…so many times. Last time was when I was so worried about my husband ( he had gotten T-boned by a transport, and his brother was not letting me visit him in the hospital – we were separated). I was so worried about what was happening, and the care he wasn't getting. I had to sneak into the hospital to see him. With HIS help, so his brother wouldn't bully and harass me. Never thought I'd be outside a hospital, in the snow, looking up at a 4th floor window, to see if my husband and son say it's safe to come and visit. a big wave, then a walk to the curtain was the signal. And it gets worse. But, do you care? No. just like my kids. Just like my neighbours, just like everyone. Am I depressed? Yes. Does it matter? No. Do I matter? No. that's what I've learnt anyways.

  11. I have been suffering this illness for 20 odd years. I have learnt to deal with it through medication & music. One doesn't work without the other & it may not work for someone else. We are all different. Giving advice to a sufferer is usually the last thing they want or need. Why don't you try this or do that is not what sufferers need. Over the years because i am a sufferer i have been able to help others & most of the times it has been through having a kind ear, shoulder to cry on or by just being there or showing not telling them things that may help. But it doesn't happen overnight, it all takes time, little steps at a time. I suffered for years, the doctors kept telling me i needed a holiday, how many holidays a year can someone take, then i was told we don't want to treat this with drugs, so i went for natural therapies. didn't work for me but it may work for others. Then one doctor told me to try & talk myself out of it. I never realised you could talk yourself out of a medical condition like that. All this was in the late 80s. Finally after second suicide attempt in 92 a doctor that i owe my life to came to my rescue. we tried different medications & self help methods till we hit on a combination that worked. At the time i was married & had very little support from my wife, i was still working & putting her through uni with a part Government grant. Im single now, it ended in 98 not through my illness, but i am happy to say i live a great life, i still have some down periods but we all have those. I'm still on my meds, my music & my bikes & if i am able to help someone else that is a bonus. The only down side is i will probably remain single. That's life.

  12. This post is beautiful. The points said above is grate,especially,be there for them. I have experience this as my wife was a depression patient.(she is continuing small dosage of medicine, only because she don't want to experience the depression stage any more). It started in 1988, after delivery, she took medicine-as advised by doctor- to increase milk for breast feeding-that is the reason I understand. I had to take leave to look after her(I was working with govt. department, the management or administration did not understand what is depression and did not even sanction 6 months leave to look after her and and the newborn baby, and terminated me from the service. We survived all odds, with the support of doctors and few friends). The baby is a Master of Electrical Engineering now and married recently.

    The point I want to make here is the govt/public has to support people with depression(I have come out of that situation-but all may not be that lucky to survive)and not to harass them.

  13. Offer them a hug…..don't just spontaneously hug them, as they may be averse to physical touch like I was for a long time. Ask them if they would like a hug, ask often…..don't be afraid to tell them you don't know what to do or say. The very fact that you are trying makes a huge difference.

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