Here's how to support a loved one with depression

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How to support someone who suffers from depression.
How to support someone who suffers from depression.
Photo: Adam Hester/Getty Images
  • If someone you know is struggling from depression, there are things that you could do to support them.
  • It is important to note the symptoms of depression so that you are able to recognise them should they arise.
  • There are also steps you can take to support someone with depression, which includes educating yourself, encouraging treatment and being patient.


According to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, one in five South Africans may be struggling with a mental health disorder; this includes depression. 

With this in mind, it's possible that you may know someone who is battling this mental health issue. 

"Sadly, there is so much stigma surrounding depression that many people suffer in silence, unable to talk to their loved ones, let alone their doctors," Dr Eugene Allers, a prominent psychiatrist, shared in a press statement.

"Additionally, many people with depression think their feelings are normal and can go years without seeking the help they need." 

With the right help, depression can be treated. It all starts with recognising the signs. 

Here are some symptoms that have been associated with depression. It is important to note, however, that symptoms can vary from person to person. 

READ MORE | Mental health: Are you too hard on yourself? Expert tips to achieve self-kindness

Here are some symptoms that could be a sign of depression:

  • Being sad or tearful more than usual.
  • Feeling hopeless, especially about the future.
  • Lack of interest in regular activities. 
  • Irritable and easily upset.
  • Low energy. 
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Thinking about death or suicide.

Educate yourself

The more you know about depression, the easier it could be for you to support someone suffering from it. There are many resources available online, do your research and find out as much as you and by speaking to professionals as well.

Reach out

Reaching out to a person struggling with depression can be tricky and should be done in a loving, non-judgmental way. Ask the person if there is anything that they would like to talk about. Should they decline, it's important that you are patient and do not back them into the corner. Let them know that you are ready to listen whenever they feel comfortable enough to talk. 

READ MORE | Taking a break from social media improves mental health

Encourage treatment

Some people may be ashamed to seek help. Remind them that finding help does not mean they are weak and is a crucial step to recovery. If possible, and they're open to it, you can help them find a professional to speak to.

Be patient

Recovery from depression may take time. Be patient, and encourage the person not to give up. Recovery is a process - offer hope and support, and don't get frustrated if it seems to be taking a while to reach a positive space.

Breaking depression is possible. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 567 567. 

Source: Issued on behalf of Breaking Depression by G&G Digital

READ MORE | 'Being kind simply means to meet someone at their reality' - mental health expert says

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