Steps to Help You Talk to Loved Ones Struggling with Depression

The leading cause of disability affecting people aged 15 to 44 in the United States is depression. Major Depressive Disorder is the most common form of depression diagnosed in the United States. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), over 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2014, the most current data available.


Depression and mental illness are difficult topics to discuss, and people often struggle with how to approach the subjects with loved ones or even professionals. Below are steps you can take if you or someone you know may be struggling with depression:


  • Look, Ask and Listen – Individuals struggling with depression may not always be open about their anxieties and struggles so it is important to pay attention to changes. People may start withdrawing from activities they previously enjoyed or experience changes in eating, sleeping or energy levels. If you sense changes that are concerning, make sure to reach out and ask questions to show that you care.


  • Educate Yourself – While depression is now more talked about than it used to be, it is still important to research the disorder with valid and reliable sources to debunk some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding the topic.


Great resources include:


  • Express Your Support – Going through depression is difficult and often times individuals who are struggling just need to know that there is someone who will love, support and listen to them.


Here are some simple helpful phrases:

  • “I’m here for you.”
  • “I don’t know what you are going through but I will support you.”
  • “You are important to me.”
  • “You are not alone.”


  • Don’t Give Unwanted Advice –Giving advice is not the same as being asked for help. People going through depression are more inclined to think badly about themselves; it is important to not isolate them further by saying the wrong thing. Even if it is offered with good intentions, giving unwanted advice can feel judgemental and confirm their already negative opinion of themselves. It is ultimately up to them what they chose to do.


Rather than telling them they need to seek help, ask “what do you think you should do? What do you think your next steps should be?”


If they lack an appetite, invite conversation and sharing photos of your meals. This is a great way to help them get into a routine of eating without feeling pressure; this can also help to ease your worries.


  • Be Encouraging – Depression can be a rollercoaster; there will be good and bad days so make sure to recognize any progress made. This can help uplift their attitude and help positively change their self-perception.


Here are some examples:

  • “I don’t know if you have noticed but you have been active more recently.”
  • “I’m so proud of you! I know how hard that would have been for you.”


Havenwood provides a comfortable inpatient facility for adults who need mental health counseling, including the treatment of depression. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder, contact a treatment facility for help. To learn more about the breadth of services offered at Havenwood Behavioral Health, visit call us at (864) 660-6217. With proper treatment and support, you can overcome mental illness.