How to help friends and family with depression

An anonymous viewer asks Can you make a video
about how to help a loved one with depression. Let’s start with something not to do. Don’t ask someone have you tried to just not
be depressed. That doesn’t work. The first thing you want to do is understand
the mental illness that your loved one might be struggling with. There is a lot of information online. But my favorite way to understand what a mental
illness is actually like is to read stories by people who have experienced it. Some of my favorites are Hyperbole and a Half
for depression and Marbles for bipolar depression. The next thing you want to do is create an
environment that’s going to make it a little bit easier for the person to get better while
you also make sure to take care of yourself. It’s like when someone gets sick you bring
them tissues and chicken soup and remind them to take their medicine while you also create
a little bit of distance so you don’t catch whatever it is that they have. Because if you get sick too then there’s more
people who are sick in the environment. That’s kind of what it’s like when you’re
helping someone who might be experiencing a mental illness. You want to support them and also take care
of yourself. When I broke my leg I was immobile for a long
time and I fell into a depression. And what some of my friends did is they knew
that I was stuck. I couldn’t go around much I couldn’t do much. And that was really pushing my mood down. So what they did is they would come over. They would visit they would help me go on
very small trips around the neighborhood. That did lift my mood a bit and helped me
to feel better. It’s a fine line between creating an environment
and just making it a little bit easier for that person to take the next few steps that
make them feel better and not pushing them so far beyond their limits because that’s
just going to be make them feel worse and might create more of a setback. There’s a lot of research now on caregiver
burnout. So when you’re helping someone who has a chronic
condition that it can introduce a lot of stress and anxiety or maybe pull your mood down as
well so you have to take care of yourself sometimes that might mean setting up your
own activities that make you feel better maybe even going to a support group that is related
to caregivers for whatever condition your or your loved one might be struggling with. So I’ve got a couple of videos here that might
be helpful. I made a video on how to treat depression. I also made a video on psychological first
aid. What question do you want to see me answer
on The Psych Show? Let me know in the comments below or share
on social media with #ThePsychShowQA. Share this video with someone who loves someone
with depression. If you want more fun and easy to understand
psychology videos hit the subscribe button and if you like this video give it a thumbs

About the author


  1. Thanks for this. I've struggled with depression on and off for much of my life. It's good to think about building environments to help with that. And to know about ways to help with caregiver burnout – one of my biggest concerns is how I'm dragging down the people I care about. I'm going through a tough period now, so maybe I will have people watch this to help all sides.

  2. @The Psych Show
    It would be helpful if you've posted links in the description below (of those your recommended videos). I can't find it… 😟

  3. My favorite example for helping someone understand depression is the game Depression Quest. It's an interactive fiction story in which the player is in the role of someone experiencing the symptoms of depression. One of the best mechanics is that you see options that would help the character and maybe seem obvious to the player but the options are grayed out, representing that someone with depression may not be able to see or act upon healthier choices. You can find it at

  4. That taking care of yourself too factor is so important! I want to pursue clinical psychology and I’m a bit worried that I’ll struggle to compartmentalize work and my personal life. Could you make a video expanding more on this? How do you be a clinical psychologist without it affecting your own mental health?

  5. Hyperbole and a half explains how a depressed person feels in a way that everybody can easily understand: sometimes we just need a help to figure out how another person might feel. I read it 2 years ago and I would recommand it to everybody

  6. Another amazing video! Helping people close to us with difficult mental illness is so hard. Understanding absolutely comes first. Things as simple as listening and empathy are vital also. Thanks again for the brilliant video!

  7. What if the said person can't admit they have a mental illness but everyone around them can see clearly that they are suffering from a mental illness?

  8. I would like to watch a video that explains causes and best treatment for Obsessive compulsive disorder. If possible with examples of how to best deal with intrusive thoughts or images like killing a loved one and the how to ask help from family

  9. Caregiver burnout is a thing. My wife looked after her elderly parents (both of whom had dementia) for five years. It really took its toll on her, and even to this day the load it placed on her still shows.

  10. Hi! Could you make a video explaining autism from a neurospych-standpoint? Really interesting content by the way 🙂

  11. Good thing I found your channel Sir! I am studying Psychology and your channel makes it easy! keep it up!!!!!! ☺👍👍

  12. My brother had a terrible experience when he was in elementary school. Teachers bullied him and kids bullied him and no one from the faculty came to his aid. He changed schools for sixth grade and because of all his experiences from the past, he got PTSD, anxiety and depression. He was fine in seventh and eighth grade and it started again in high school. He's a sophomore now and when he was a freshman, he started staying home from school almost every day. My parents take him to therapy and they give him medication to calm him down. This is still going on and he once said that just going into my mom's car to go to school gives him anxiety and PTSD bc it reminds him of his situation. His therapy seems to be helping a bit and me and him are starting to fight a lot less since he's not in a bad mood as much as he used to be (at least he doesn't show it)
    I really want to understand his situation a lot more so I can help him get through this. It's a really stressful time for my parents and family and I just hope it will get better

  13. My ex was chronically depressed. Honestly it went well for the most part, with every now and then there being a harder moment. I had no idea how to deal with it, I just wanted the best for her. I'd leave her alone for an hour or so first to get her bearings and then talk about what happened in a calm manner. Usually that worked out just well, even though I could see her mood was still down after, but given time. I probably tried too much to make things better then by trying to sound happier myself hoping it'd sort of jump over, although I am overoptimistic as is. Not overexcited, but I always look at things in positive ways, even if it's mindless. Perhaps not smart, but I'd feel helpless to do nothing at all.

    We broke up about two years ago now. I never truly knew the reason (Mind you, long distance). Anyway; imagine I meet a friend who has the same, who is chronically depressed. What would be the best way for me to actually get along with it? To try and make that person more comfortable, at the very least? Was what I did unintentionally harmful?

  14. I had to take a break with my current boyfriend because of his depression. He would threaten to kill himself whenever we fought. Am I a bad person for taking a break?

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