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How to talk to someone with depression – lessons for friends and family


Medically reviewed by Dr. Riaz Ali Shah.

Depression can take a toll on one’s friendships, romantic relationships and family bonds. This is because depression can deplete a person’s energy, motivation and capacity to take care of themselves. Often times for family and friends it becomes difficult to understand what the person is going through and what they need. Whether or not you have a loved one who is depressed, you must know how to talk to someone with depression. One should communicate with sensitivity, patience, sincerity and love. Often times, even with the best of intentions, the things we say can do more harm than good.

Therefore, in this article, we will discuss how best to communicate with someone who is depressed.

Listen to them

Depression can make an individual feel frustrated and isolated. It is important to show them that you care and the best way to do that is listen to them. When they say they feel depressed, do not say, “I know, me too.” Equating your mood with their depression invalidates what they are going through. Instead say, “I’m here for you if you want to talk.” Being open to listening is a good way to make them feel that they are not alone.

Acknowledge their pain

Often depressed people feel that nobody understands what they are going through. When they express how they feel, do not say, “Stop being depressed” or “Try to get over it” or “Try to be happy and positive”. It is important to remember that depression is a terrible disease, not a choice. You should say instead, “This must be so hard. How are you coping?” and “I’m really sorry you’re going through this. How can I help?” This makes them feel seen. Being kind and sympathetic can help you understand how to talk to someone with depression.

Do not pressure them into doing things

Depression often makes people withdraw from social situations. As a friend or family member, it is important to understand that depression severely affects one’s energy. There are some days it is hard to get out of bed. It is important to not get angry when your loved one misses social activities. Even if they have missed multiple activities, you should keep sending them invitations to make them feel that they are not forgotten. At the same time, you should not impress on them that they absolutely have to attend because the guilt of missing out can be damaging to the individual.

Help them find support

Depressed people should have the autonomy to decide their treatment. So you should not tell them what they should or should not do. If someone doesn’t want to take medication, do not force them to. You can be helpful in other ways. For example, if your friend wants counselling you can help look for therapists. You could ask for example, “Do you want me to help review therapists and book an appointment?” If they have trouble meeting their appointments some days due to lack of motivation, you can encourage them by saying “Last session made you feel so much better. What if this one helps too?”

We hope this has helped you learn how to talk to someone with depression. If your loved one is suffering from depression and you do not know what to do, the best thing to do is learn more about depression in order to understand what they are going through. You can consult medical professionals on our app for more information on depression and how to deal with it.



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