When a Loved One Has Depression
Coping with depression is difficult for the person who is depressed as well as their family and friends.
Role of Caregiver
The support and involvement of family and friends can be crucial in helping someone who is depressed. It is especially helpful if family and friends encourage the patient to stick with treatment and practice the coping techniques and problem-solving skills he or she is learning during psychotherapy.
How Can I Help?
- Make sure that your loved one is evaluated and treated by a trained
mental health professional. This is essential to properly diagnose
depression and find the right kind of treatment.
- Educate yourself, your
family, and friends about mental health problems and depression in
particular. This will help you understand what your loved one is
- Someone with depression needs constant support. This can be
draining, especially if it lasts for long periods of time. It is, however,
one of the most important parts of successful treatment. People with
depression can feel alone and isolated -- giving consistent support and
understanding are critical.
- Help the person with depression to stick to his
or her treatment plan. This means making sure that medicines are available
if prescribed, attending therapy sessions with the person if needed, helping
make recommended lifestyle changes, and encouraging the person to follow up
with the proper health care provider, especially if the treatment needs to
Tips for the Caregiver
Living with a person who has depression can be very difficult and
stressful on family members and friends. Here are some suggestions for
living with a person who has depression that may make things easier for you
and more beneficial for the depressed person:
- Recognize that depression is often expressed as hostility, rejection,
- Adopt an interaction style that puts the depressed person
in charge. For example, instead of suggesting, "Let's go to the movies
tonight," try this: "I'd like to see a movie tonight. Which one of these do
you want to see with me?"
- Encourage the depressed person to seek
professional help. Accompany and support your loved one, but make it clear
that it is his or her responsibility to get better.
- Remember that treatment
is very effective and your loved one will improve with treatment within a
- Support opportunities for the depressed person to be rewarded,
such as visiting friends or going out for activities. Don't force these,
- Make sure you notice and praise any significant improvement. Be
- Leave time for yourself and your own needs. Take breaks from the
depressed person from time to time. It will help both of you.
family or marital therapy: these forms of therapy may be beneficial in
bringing together all those affected by depression and helping them learn
effective ways to cope together.
- Consider turning to support groups, either
for the depressed person, or for you as his or her family member.
WebMD Medical Reference
SOURCES:Last Editorial Review: 5/14/2012
Family Caregiver Alliance.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging.
Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on May 14, 2012
© 2012 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.