Living with someone who is experiencing depression is not easy. When they are struggling, it can often be hard to know what to do and say, and it's not uncommon to feel angry, guilty or overwhelmed from time to time.
Learn About Depression
By having an idea of how someone is affected by depression, you might be able to better recognize why they behave the way they do. Understanding more about depression might also help you separate the illness from your family member, partner or friend, and realize that their mood and behavior might not be directed at you personally.
Everyone is affected by their depression a little bit differently. Sometimes it can be physically draining to move much, so the house might not get picked up as often as it normally would. Perhaps being around people is exhausting, so they might need more time alone than usual.
Try not to blame them or shame them for what they’re experiencing, as it’s not something they can control. Just try to be as compassionate as you can for their experience, while also taking care of yourself.
To learn more, try exploring the Myths about Depression article.
Put Yourself First Occasionally
As a family member or friend of someone who’s going through depression, it’s important that you look after yourself. This can be hard and you might find that you feel guilty when you do something for yourself, but taking time out for yourself is an important part of taking care of yourself and your loved one. When you take care of yourself, you can show up for those around you in a more sustainable way.
Having time away from your friend or family member can be important and allow you to relax. Try to spend some time doing what you enjoy. You might want to play a sport, hang out with friends, listen to music or go for a walk. Our Developing Coping Strategies article can give you some ideas on what self-care might be best for you.
Talk About What Your Loved One Finds Helpful
Make conversations about depression easy and open. Try asking what helps them get through their depression. By talking openly, you are letting the person know that you love and support them. You may like to talk about what you have read about depression, and ask how they feel about it.
Maybe they don’t find talking about it to really help and that’s okay, too. If you were constantly sitting in the head space, talking about it might be the last thing you want to do. Take their lead and ask what would help. Perhaps focusing on other things and just sharing your love and support in them could be enough.
Find a Support Group
If you are living or caring for someone who is experiencing depression, you may sometimes feel you are alone. Friends may not understand what you’re dealing with. Talking to people who are in a similar situation may be helpful. The National Alliance on Mental Illness might be a good place to find some support. You can also call Lines for Life’s YouthLine at 1-877-968-8491 or their Suicide LifeLine at 1-800-273-8255 for more information on how to talk to your loved one about depression or if you suspect they’re feeling suicidal.
Talk to Someone
It might be helpful to talk to someone you trust, like another friend or family member, about how you’re feeling regarding your loved one’s depression. If you feel like you are having trouble doing day to day activities or the stress of caretaking for this depressed person is too much, you could also consider seeing a counselor or therapist.