Counsellor Sarah Barr shares a guide to supporting a friend or loved one who may have depression.

“When I’m alone, I think.

When I think, I remember.

When I remember, I feel pain.

When I feel pain, I cry.

When I cry, I can’t stop.

Please don’t leave me alone”

Some days are hard. Some days are harder than others. These are the days when your loved one will need you more.

Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people. It can get in the way of everyday life.

If someone you love is depressed, you may be experiencing any number of difficult emotions. These include feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and sadness.

These feelings are all normal.

Symptoms of depression

Depression signs and symptoms will vary from person to person. However they can include:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts or irritability
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Not sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking,  speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt and blame
  • Focusing on the past
  • Difficulty in thinking and focusing on certain tasks
  • Frequent or recurrent mention of death or suicidal thoughts
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.

It is advisable to seek professional advice from your doctor or a counsellor before self-diagnosing.

1. Depression can’t always be seen.

As a society we may believe that people who are living with mental health issues will look visually unhappy. This is not always true. So many people suffer in silence, sometimes afraid of what their friends or family will think of them or worried that their reputation will be ruined.

It can be a daily struggle to do things that others don’t think twice about. Tasks such as getting out of bed, getting dressed and leaving the house. Depression can’t always be seen ,yet this does mean it does not exist. Believing your loved one when they tell you how they are feeling and showing kindness will greatly help them get through their day.

2. Understand

Depression and anxiety can give a level of discomfort that many people do not have. By understanding others limitations, respecting their decisions and limitations will reduce your loved one feeling pressured.

Some days are more difficult than others, some days getting out of bed can be an achievement. By talking about depression we learn more about it. This will increase understanding and awareness of depression within our homes, work and community.

“Depression and sadness mean two different things. Sadness is a normal emotion and if something bad was to happen then you may feel sad, but that sadness will lift after a few days. However, depression is a persistent sadness – it can last for weeks, months or even years.”

3. Be there 

You don’t have to try to “fix” your loved one, you just have to be a good listener. Talking to someone face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression.

Starting that conversation can be difficult, here are some suggestions of questions you can ask:

“I have been feeling worried about you”

“I am wondering how you are doing”

“I want to check in with you because you have seemed a bit down lately.”

By being there sometimes is all you need to do. By offering a listening ear or giving a hug is enough. By helping your loved one carry the load will greatly help them.

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4. Depression is not a choice.

Feeling down and miserable every day is not a choice anyone would like to make. It is not a cry for attention and they cannot just snap out of it. Depression is a real illness.

Many people hide how they are feeling so if someone opens up to you, treat that person and conversation with as much kindness as you can. They are letting you in.

5. Be proud

Everyday we learn something new. Everyday is filled with new thoughts and experiences. Everyday can be a struggle.

Be proud that your loved one is fighting through how they are feeling, be proud that they have woken up, be proud that they have decided to get up, be proud that they are fighting their depression. Understand their world. Walk in their shoes and you will be proud of them.

This video can help explain what it is like to live with depression:

When a family member or friend suffers from depression, your support and encouragement can play an important role in his or her recovery. However, depression can also wear you down if you neglect your own needs. Thinking about your own needs is not an act of selfishness, it is self-care. Your emotional strength will allow you to provide the ongoing support your loved one needs.

People may feel ashamed about their depression and think they should be able to overcome it with willpower alone. Depression seldom gets better without treatment and may get worse. With the right treatment approach, the person you care about can get better. This is a decision they must make themselves. If they feel ready to talk to someone I have listed links to organisations that may help below:


Or contact your local doctor or myself on 0864477867.

Take Care ~ Sarah.