Here’s How to Support a Family Member Struggling With Depression

When a family member is struggling with depression, their loved ones want to help, but also can experience their own challenging emotions.

If you haven’t struggled with depression yourself, it can be hard to understand why they’re experiencing this. It’s natural to want to jump in and fix the situation but overcoming depression can be a complex journey.

Here are the most important ways that you can support a family member, or friend, struggling with depression.

Recognize the Symptoms

A person may be experiencing different symptoms but it’s the combination of these that may indicate that someone is battling depression.

  • Feeling worthless
  • Hopelessness
  • Ongoing fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Change in appetite
  • Persistent sadness
  • Suicidal thoughts

If your loved one has been experiencing several of these symptoms or any of them are becoming overwhelming, they may be struggling with depression.



Listen Non-Judgmentally

The first thing that your loved one may need is someone who will listen without any judgment. Avoid jumping to conclusions and making assumptions about their situation. Usually a person battling depression needs someone to hear them out even more than they need someone to offer quick solutions.

Be Present & Offer Help

Make yourself available to your loved one and simply be present. Having someone who cares no matter what makes a big difference for someone who may be dealing with prolonged sadness. You may consider offering to help with specific tasks or simply asking what they need.

Set Personal Boundaries

It’s important to know your limits and set personal boundaries. There is only so much you can do to help someone else, even a family member. Depression treatment can be a challenging journey and it’s important to care for yourself and not offer more than you’re able to. The person dealing with depression may have too high of expectations of their family members, and it’s okay to say that you can’t help in certain ways or at certain times.

Encourage Treatment

There is always hope for anyone, but it’s not uncommon to need professional treatment in order to deal with depression.

Unfortunately, many people suffering from depression never seek treatment. The good news is that depression treatment can and does work to help lessen the symptoms of depression and increase quality of life. Research shows the highest success rates are depression treatment programs that combine medication therapy and talk therapy or mental health counseling.

If you’re unsure whether you or a family have questions about professional treatment, we’re happy to answer your questions.