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7 ways to help someone with depression

Do you suspect that someone you know is suffering from depression?

Here are some suggestions of how to help:

1. Gently tell them you’re concerned

It can be hard to broach the subject of depression but if you’re worried about someone, tell them you’ve noticed that they seem to be having a hard time. They may feel relieved to know that someone cares.

2. Avoid belittling their feelings

Instructing someone with depression to ‘snap out of it’, ‘cheer up’ or ‘look on the bright side’ isn’t going to help them change their mood. In fact it may make them push you and others further away. Instead, try to be compassionate, invite them to talk and accept their feelings without judgement. The Samaritans has suggestions of how to start a conversation

3. Be available – and let them know

It may be tempting to leave someone with depression to their thoughts and give them space, but that could isolate them further. Text, phone or arrange to meet the person – and stay in touch so that they know you’re there for them. One conversation is unlikely to be enough.

4. Encourage them to help themselves

If their depression seems long-lasting and they’re not in touch with their GP or any support services, try to encourage the person to seek help. The GP can either organise a referral or advise on any treatments that could help to alleviate the symptoms of depression. Benenden Health members can also access the Psychological Wellbeing Service from day one of membership (see below).

5. Offer healthy solutions

Depressed adults may be less inclined to exercise or eat healthily. They may also turn to drink or drugs to get through. Instead of encouraging this, try to suggest healthy activities such as going for a walk or cooking a simple, nutritious meal together.

6. Let them be heard

Giving someone with depression a chance to talk (if they want to) is very important. Talking therapy is also a proven way to tackle mild to moderate depression. Peer support groups such as those organised by Mind could also help.

7. Seek help if you’re unsure

Depression can be mild, moderate or severe. If you suspect someone has severe depression – or you have any fears that they may be suicidal – seek help. You or they should speak to:

  • Their GP or NHS 111

  • Samaritans on 116 123

If they are in immediate danger, call 999.

Depression can be mild, moderate or severe.

Common symptoms include:

  • Becoming increasingly withdrawn.

  • Caring less about life and relationships with others.

  • Having a bleak or negative outlook.

  • Sleeping badly or being excessively tired.

  • Drinking excessively or having irregular (or unhealthy) eating habits.

  • A lack of interest in looking after themselves.

Further resources

Benenden Health Mental Health Helpline

This is available from day one of membership. Have your membership number handy and call 0800 414 8247 (select option 2) from the UK


Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35 

Depression Alliance (with Mind)

Charity with a network of self-help groups for people with depression


Confidential anonymous helpline for people experiencing distress or despair

Call 116 123 (free, 24 hours)