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How can I help a loved one who is depressed?

John Preston, PsyD
Psychology
The nature of depression is to withdraw and to experience helplessness, pessimism, and/or powerlessness. Almost half the people in the United States who experience serious depression never seek treatment. Normal attempts to encourage or cheer up a person who is in the throes of clinical depression almost always fail.  most important thing you can do is to speak to your friend or family member in a frank and compassionate way. After listening, let your loved one know that you understand about the nature of depression and let the person know you are very concerned and that you feel compelled to help him or her seek professional treatment.

Self-help strategies often are successful in battling depression, but with severe depressions, professional help is always necessary. If your friend or family member minimizes his or her plight or seems reluctant to pursue getting professional help, please be persistent in encouraging the person to seek help. And if your loved one seems too immobilized by the depression or is in other ways unable to initiate treatment on his or her own, it is often very helpful for others to offer assistance in making a first appointment with a therapist or physician. You might say, “I cannot in good conscience be silent about this. I know you are seriously depressed. I know many people with depression just feel like giving up, and I also know most people who seek treat- ment recover. Please let me help you make a first appointment with a therapist. I’m doing this because I am concerned and because I love you. I believe that you would do the same for me if I were in your shoes.”
Depression 101: A Practical Guide to Treatments, Self-Help Strategies, and Preventing Relapse

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Depression 101: A Practical Guide to Treatments, Self-Help Strategies, and Preventing Relapse

When you have depression, it can feel like there's no way out. To begin changing the way you feel, you'll need an arsenal of proven techniques for lifting your mood and preventing relapse. The...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.