How to approach someone with depression

Putting things off. Missing deadlines. Being indecisive.

Hints you can use to help a friend or loved one who may be struggling

If you’ve noticed these signs in a friend or loved one, chances are he or she may be showing signs of depression. The signs of depression include lack of concentration, slowed thinking, trouble making decisions or energy loss.

Four tips to start the conversation

So, what can you do to help? Oftentimes, a conversation is a good place to start. It’s best if you have the kind of relationship that makes it comfortable to do so.

Depression can be lonely and frightening, but a conversation can help that person feel supported. Here are four ways you can approach your friend or loved one to begin the conversation.

  1. Ask if he or she is OK. Tell your friend or loved one that he or she hasn’t seemed like themselves lately. Describe what you’re seeing and how things have changed.
  2. Listen. Try not to jump in with solutions. He or she will likely benefit from your listening ear. Ask follow-up questions about how your friend or loved one’s feelings are impacting his or her daily life. Be reassuring and not judgmental since it may not be easy for the person to open up.
  3. Provide support. Let your friend or loved one know depression is common and help is available. Ask what you can do to help. You might make suggestions like asking if he or she has spoken to a primary care provider or EAP. You can also connect the person to a source of care.
  4. Follow up. Keep conversations and information confidential unless you’re worried your friend or loved one may pose a danger. In those cases, talk to someone you trust immediately.

Remember, your friend or loved one may not be ready to talk or seek help Remind him or her that you’re here to help when the time comes.

If you are struggling with depression and need information, support and/or a referral to get professional help, there is hope.

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