Living with someone with depression

What you can do to help and support someone you live with who is struggling with depression.

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Living with someone with depression can be incredibly draining. Some of the symptoms of depression, including feelings of intense sadness and hopelessness, don’t just affect the person with the mental health condition; they can also impact the people that they are closest to.

That’s why, when you’re living with someone with depression, it’s so important to be aware of how you can help the person and yourself. In this blog, we look at what you can do, and provide information on the expert depression treatment we can deliver at Priory.

Learn the symptoms of depression

If you think you’re living with someone with depression, take the time to learn as much as you can about the condition, including the symptoms of depression to look out for. Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:

  • Intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that they once enjoyed
  • Anger, irritability and frustration, and taking these feelings out on people who are closest to them

By recognising the symptoms of depression, you’ll be able to spot warning signs and begin to identify when the person might be going through a particularly tough time. This means you’ll know when they may need some extra support and can try to minimise any triggers that may make them feel worse.

Priory explains: Depression

Priory therapist Niamh Maguire explores everything you need to know about depression, from the symptoms and causes to most effective treatments.


Talk to the person about what they’re going through

If you’re living with someone with depression, help them speak openly and honestly about how they’re feeling and what they’re going through.

Let them know that you’re there to support them and will always be there to listen to anything they want to talk about. By keeping the lines of communication open, you can make sure that you are kept aware of when the person is going through difficulties so that they aren’t suffering in silence.

It’s also a good idea to ask the person how they would like you to support them. For example, when they’re having a tough time, do they want you to sit with them and watch their favourite movie together, or would they prefer fewer guests in the house for the time being? They may want you to help them get motivated when depressed, or they may want some down time. Both are genuine and normal reactions to depression.

By communicating regularly and openly, the person will know that they don’t have to face things alone and can rely on you for support. It also means you can be there for them in the most helpful way possible.

Look after yourself

Living with someone with depression and supporting them every day can be draining. That’s why it’s so important to look after your own mental health and wellbeing.

Try and set some time aside each day to do something that you enjoy or find relaxing. This may be reading your favourite book, listening to some music or having a hot bath. Taking this time out for yourself can help you to mentally recuperate so that your own resources aren’t depleted. By taking care of your own mental health, you’ll be in a much better position to support someone else.

Living with someone with depression can also feel lonely at times. That’s why it’s important to regularly check in with other family members and friends. Arrange to meet them for a coffee to get out of the house, or even just pick up the phone to give them a quick call.

Speak to someone about what you’re going through

If you’re ever finding things to be too much, it can really help to open up to someone you trust about what you’re going through. Explain your situation to a trusted friend or relative – they will be able to offer you support while you’re looking after the person with depression, so you don’t feel as though you’re tackling things alone. After all, it’s often said that a problem shared is a problem halved.

Help the person with depression to get help

While there are lots of things you can do to help when living with someone with depression, this condition can become gradually worse over time and often needs expert depression treatment.

As an initial step, you could make a GP appointment on behalf of the person and then offer to attend it with them for moral support. This will give them the chance to get things off their chest with a medical professional, and their GP may be able to refer them for specialist mental health treatment.

In addition, while we prefer people to have a GP referral, this isn’t essential and you can also contact Priory directly to discuss your loved one's needs and options for treatment.

At Priory, we provide expert depression treatment at our hospitals and wellbeing centres, including outpatient therapy, day care or residential stays if needed. We can help someone with depression to address their symptoms, learn coping strategies for the future, and take steps towards the healthy and fulfilling life they deserve.

Page clinically reviewed by Dr Leon Rozewicz (MBBS, FRCPsych, MRCGP, MRCPsych), Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director of Priory Hospital North London

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