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How to Help Someone with Depression


There are few things more painful than watching someone you care about suffer. It’s even more painful to watch them suffer when they aren’t getting help to ease their suffering. That is often the case when depression is the cause of the suffering because the sense of helplessness can be overwhelming. However, all is not lost as there are things you can do. I hope that this post will help you help someone with depression.

Am I a psychiatrist? No. Am I a psychologist? No. So, what business do I have in writing on this topic? I’ve been through living with a clinically depressed loved one. I know what didn’t work with him. I know how horribly helpless I felt at times. Now I can look back on that experience and, coupled with the latest research, offer the best ways to help you learn how to help someone with depression.

Someone with depression, particularly a loved one with whom your living may resist or even resent your attempts to help them. Their response to your attempts might even include angry and hurtful retorts. Be aware that it’s their depression talking. Some men have been known to become physically abusive when they are depressed. Under no circumstances should you tolerate that. If this is the case, you should move yourself and your children away temporarily. The following techniques have been known to help someone with depression:

How to help someone with depression – 13 steps

  1. Go on a walk with the person or go with them to the gym. Be sly. Try asking them to go with you because it’s more fun for you if you have company. The conversation might go something like this: “You know, I need to get exercise, but it would be so much more fun if you would go with me.”
  2. Rent a funny movie. Humor is helpful in alleviating depression.
  3. Be a good listener. However, if the person won’t talk to you about his or her depression, s/he may talk to a good friend.
  4. Diffuse appropriate essential oils into the environment. Geranium, neroli, bergamot essential oils and rose otto or rose absolute are particularly good to use in a diffuser, linen spray and massage oil.
  5. Burning frankincense incense is thought to have an affect on the brain to help relieve depression. Scientific studies so far have been limited to mouse brains, but it is worth a try. Be cautious that the aroma doesn’t become overpowering and offensive.
  6. Offer to give the depressed person a massage or invite them to visit a day spa with you. Either way, make sure the helpful essential oils are added to the massage oil.
  7. Encourage the person to get involved in an activity. It doesn’t matter much what it is as long as it distracts from the gloominess. You may find this difficult as one of the signs of depression is a total lack of interest in anything. If you find this to be the case, you might try asking them to help you with a project. “Can you help me take this clock apart?”  “Will you help me plant this rose?” Anything is better than nothing, but if you can find a project that you know the person was interested in before their depression that would be best.
  8. Offer your help, but don’t push. “You seem to be a bit depressed lately. Is there anything I can do to help?” This might get them talking which is a good thing.
  9. If the person is a reader, there are some amazingly good books which you can give them. There are some good articles online as well. There are also good reads on how to help a person with depression which may also be helpful to you.
  10. You can ask the person if an outside source of help is in order. “You seem to be really depressed lately. Do you think talking to someone knowledgeable about what to do about it might help?” Be prepared when you ask this question for a possible outburst.
  11. Serving up green tea. Three or four cups of green tea a day has been shown in studies to help with depression.
  12. If you suspect the person is at risk for suicide, action is imperative. Ignoring the problem is not an option. I strongly suggest you read the information at http://wcmhar.org/suicide.html [1].
  13. Help out with tasks the person would normally do. A depressed person often has no energy and will let things slide.
  14. Depending on the relationship you have with the depressed person, you may have some control over the diet s/he eats. If this is the case, serve foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D and selenium. What this means is the diet should be rich in green leafy vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and nuts. Though animal source foods are the primary source of vitamin B12, it is also found in yeast and soy based foods.

In figuring out how to help a person with depression, there are a few things you should not do.

Depression sucks the joy out of life for the depressed person and those that care for him or her. So, if you are living with a person who is depressed, it’s important that you stay strong and upbeat for yourself. Many of the ideas above will help you do this. In learning how to help a depressed person, you also learn how to help yourself. You may also want to take a mini vacation away from the depressed person. An hour or two with cheerful friends can be very therapeutic. Another good idea is to have relaxing mini-spa day. To check out one way to do this click here [2]. To deal with the possible stress that often comes along with helping someone with problems click here [3].

Now go have fun and relax.