Health and wellbeing blogs

How can I help my loved one who is experiencing depression?

Everyone feels the blues occasionally, but for some people the feeling of sadness could be a sign of something more serious. Clinical Psychologist Ian Smith explains what to look for if you are concerned about someone you care about and what you can do to help.

What are the signs of depression?

If someone displays any or all of the following symptoms for more than two weeks, they may be experiencing depression:

  • a feeling of sadness, low mood or despair
  • crying or teariness for no reason
  • loss of interest or enjoyment in activities that they usually find engaging
  • irritability or being quick to anger
  • constant tiredness and/or difficulty sleeping
  • sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • self-harm
  • thoughts of suicide.

St John of God Health Care mental health

What should I do if I think my loved one is depressed?

If you are worried about someone you love:

  • talk with them – a good way to start is, “I have noticed you have not been yourself lately, is everything OK?”
  • listen without judgement – often they are not looking for a solution, just a sounding board.
  • seek professional help – encourage them to speak to their GP who can provide assistance or a referral to further treatment if required.

What else to consider?

It is possible that your loved one may not be ready to talk at first. This is OK.

Let them know that you are available to talk whenever they are ready.

Do not pressure them to talk if they are unwilling but check in with them from time to time and see how they are going.

Perhaps they are uncomfortable or too embarrassed to speak about their issue with you.

Do not be offended, instead suggest that they have a chat to someone else they feel comfortable with as soon as possible.

Sometimes, other medical conditions can produce the same symptoms as depression.

Do not jump to conclusions, wait for a doctor to provide confirmation and options.

You might like to offer to attend the appointment with them but remember, this is up to them.