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Top 9 ways of supporting someone suffering from depression

How do you deal when someone you know is diagnosed as suffering from clinical depression? What can you do help? Learn effective tips and simple things that can make a big difference and help them cope with their depression. Find out how you can help them get their life back on track.

When Deepika Padukone went public with her depression, it made headlines. People sat up and took notice because a celebrity was openly talking about her mental health. She was applauded for her bravado because people rarely talk about such issues. They are best swept under the carpet.

That Deepika spoke about her mental ailment was a good thing. It brought about a change in society – it initiated a series of discussions. We began seeing depression as a serious problem and the open discussions made it possible for people to recognise the symptoms and become aware that it was not something to be ashamed of.

The recent spate of suicides by prominent people sheds light on the gravity of the problem, and that mental health issues cannot be ignored. It also highlights the fact that most of us keep our depression under wraps. We are ashamed to talk about it, and this only magnifies the problem. Near and dear ones, see the signs, but are either ignorant or find themselves helpless. This can then lead to a catastrophic end.

Lessons learned from Deepika's pronouncement

Deepika had the courage to come out in the open and speak about her depression, and we must take a leaf out of her book. Depression is nothing to be embarrassed out, it is a mental disorder that can be treated, with the right help. We need to be frank about our emotions, with ourselves and those close enough to care. Speaking about what we are going through can be helpful.

In Deepika's case, she gives credit to her mom, who recognized the crisis and sought help at the right time. She acknowledges her family's unyielding support through the dark phase.

Just being there helps, holding hands and being supportive can help. Suicidal idea is common in people suffering from depression. And they need to be quelled through support and professional intervention.

Depression can affect anyone from teenagers to adults and successful individuals to those struggling.

Here is how you can help someone suffering from depression –

Be around them

There is immense power in just being around someone who is going through depression. Your company can act as a positive tool, in healing them.

You don't have to be vocal with your support, just be there. Give them your time and most importantly give them your ears. Listen to their woes, it can have a calming effect. Let them know that they are important to you.

Depression makes people withdraw themselves from society. They isolate themselves and live in their own world of negative thoughts and low self-esteem. Your being with them can act as a supportive gesture that can help bring them out of their depressive state.

Don't offer unsolicited advice

Don't counsel them or remind them of their abilities and talents or how lovely their life is. It may be your way of showing concern, but it can boomerang. Depression causes a temporary loss of the ability to reason or understand and see the bright-side of life. Depression dulls mental stability and at this juncture, any advice you give will create the impression that you do not understand them and they will distance themselves from you.

Instead, look for leads where you can help them feel better. Plan outings or an early morning walk – something that they want to indulge in, not something that you suggest to them.

Educate yourself about depression

You need to be armed with the right knowledge when you involve yourself in taking care of someone suffering from depression. It will help you care for them better. Depression is an illness and you need to have some understanding of it, to be able to provide the right kind of support.

It is similar to becoming informed about the do's and don't s of any other disease. You'll in all certainty research about hypertension if you were looking after someone suffering from High BP. Similarly, do some research on depression.

Most often people create a false image for the world to see. What everyone sees is a happy, successful, carefree person, whereas on the inside they are going through turmoil. They hide behind a façade and their real self is difficult to see. You will need to see the person and the feelings behind the mask and lend support.

Don't be judgemental

Recognize depression as a disease – the feelings and the mood swings are not under the patient's control. So, don't judge them on their behavior.

Don't expect them to snap out of it either, because it is not under their control. You cannot expect them to be thrilled with life, because they don't see things the way they do. A person suffering from diseases cannot just snap out of them, can they? So, don't expect someone with depression to see the good things in life, because they see life through different lenses.

Avoid phrases like –
  • get over it
  • stop moaning about life
  • you have so much to be happy about
  • it's all in your mind
  • your perception is wrong
  • you need to let go
  • be mature
  • forget about it

Such statements are insensitive and can be counterproductive and lead to them feeling misjudged and isolated. They will cut you off from their life.

Say the right things

You have to be tactful when speaking to the person. It is important that you say the right things that will uplift their sagging spirits and make them feel wanted and cared for.

Don't ignore them, instead reach out and show that you care. Show it through the way you communicate with them. Make a genuine effort to show that your care and support is unconditional. It will serve as a confidence-building aspect to the relationship.

Someone suffering from depression needs constant reassurance that you can provide with positive statements. They need to be constantly reassured that they are not worthless and that they mean the world to you. They also need to hear that you are with them and understand them and will stand by them as their pillar of strength. 'Don't give up', is the message that you need to send out to them.

Follow up with meaningful gestures

It's little things that matter the most, and your gestures, no matter how small can have a lasting impact. Spending time with the person is a good way of lending your support. Sending hello messages often can show that you care. Getting them their favorite 'mithai' or cooking their most liked dish, are significant ways of showing them that there is someone who cares.

Cook with the right ingredients

There is evidence to show that lack of certain nutrients in the diet can aggravate depression. Research shows that specific nutrients can control depression. Include the right nutrients in the diet of someone suffering from clinical depression.

Persuade them to go in for therapy

You recognize the signs of depression in the person and you know that they need professional help. At the same time, the person suffering from depression is also aware that all is not well. They can feel it, they, in fact, know that they are not in a good place but refuse to acknowledge it. You can help them by suggesting therapy. Often all that is needed is some persuasion and once they agree, they are in safe hands.

Therapy can accelerate the recovery process and prevent the condition from worsening. Clinical depression is curable, so help them connect with a therapist or psychiatrist.

Don't ignore talk of suicide

Celebrities Kate Spade, Robin Williams and Anthony Bourdain had everything going for them and yet they took their own lives. It is claimed that they probably suffered from depression.

People suffering from clinical depression often battle with suicidal thoughts. Listen to their words very carefully, watch for signs that indicate suicidal thoughts. Take mention of death seriously and do not leave them alone. This could prevent them from taking a drastic step.

Seek help - Suicide Prevention helplines & crisis centers in India

  • The COOJ Listening Helpline - 0832 2252525 Monday to Friday between 15:00 hours & 19:00 hours
  • Sneha suicide prevention helpline - 044-24640060
  • Roshn – 044-66202000 / 044-66202001

It will take a toll on you

Caring for someone with clinical depression can be very demanding physically, mentally and emotionally. There will be days when you'll feel like giving up. Their condition will also affect you too. So, you need to look after yourself too. Surround yourself with people that give out positive vibes. Calm and soothe your nerves. Do what it takes to remain calm, composed and in control.

Meditation helps, so does listening to cheerful music. Keep yourself positively engaged in doing things that make you happy. Don't be bogged down by the situation. Go out and be with other people or else you will find it affecting your mental and physical health.


Continue with your endeavors and give your full support to the patient and your efforts will, in the long run, bring about improvement in their mental health and behavior. However, depression is a mental disorder which requires professional therapy. Seek help in time.

If you know of NGOs that someone with depression can contact for counseling do leave their contact details and Helpline numbers in the comments section.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 609 articles authored by Juana


Author: Umesh06 Jul 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 10

A very nice article on depression and ways to tackle with it.

Many people do not know about depression and also do not know how to address it. They take every sad and serious person as depressed and unsolicited advice is given to him to remain happy. Anyway, such people are not liked in the society. Depression is the most delicate ailing condition of the human mind and if not corrected and handled properly in time can lead to serious irreversible phase.

I remember, long back, when I was posted in Chennai, we had a colleague who was suffering from depression but instead of helping him some of the colleagues were making a fun of him and ridiculing him time and again. Due to depressive conditions, his mood used to swing and many times he was absconding from duty also. His family was at the crossroads and not knowing what to do. The doctors prescribed some medicines which were partially effective for some time to some extent. Some of the like minded people in our office thought over this situation and wanted to help him in some way. When we talked to some doctors regarding his case they suggested some measures more or less similar ones mentioned by the author in this article. In our desire to help him we took him with us wherever we went for a stroll or a walk or market trip or even a lunch break short walk in the ground floor open area in our office. We even went to his house a few times to socialize and had a good time in exchanges of jokes etc. We called him to our houses also and reciprocated his hospitality. He continued to take the medicines as usual and we saw a perceptible change in his behaviour. He started attending office regularly and we found that his temperament had undergone a lot of change and controlled as compared to the earlier phase. We took him with us in picnics and outdoor activities also and we found that he had a great potential for managing those activities. We were surprised by his voluntary activities especially helping others.

The change in him was a very big surprise as well as a matter of great satisfaction for all of us and the other colleagues and our boss also appreciated these efforts.

So what I want to say is we have to treat these people in nice and practical ways and try to bring them back to the normal vigour and zeal of the life.

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