How to help someone with depression

Feeling down or depressed from time to time is normal. But if these feelings last 2 weeks or more, or start to affect everyday life, this can be a sign of depression.
Depression can develop slowly. Someone who’s depressed doesn’t always realize or acknowledge that they’re not feeling or behaving as they usually do.

Signs that someone may be depressed

You may notice that someone:

  • has lost interest in doing things they normally enjoy
  • seems to be feeling down or hopeless
  • has slower speech and movements or is more fidgety and restless than usual
  • feels tired or doesn’t have much energy
  • is overeating or has lost their appetite
  • is sleeping more than usual or isn’t able to sleep
  • has trouble concentrating on everyday things, such as watching TV or reading the paper

Signs of depression in older people

Depression in older people can include:

  • empty fridges and cupboards (which suggest a poor diet)
  • neglected appearance
  • poor hygiene
  • someone showing little joy in receiving visitors

Tips to help someone who seems down

  1. Let them know you care and are there to listen.
  2. Accept them as they are, without judging them.
  3. Gently encourage them to help themselves – for example, by staying physically active, eating a balanced diet and doing things they enjoy.
  4. Get information about the services available to them, such as psychological therapy services or depression support groups in their area.
  5. Stay in touch with them by messaging, texting, phoning or meeting for coffee. People who are depressed can become isolated and may find it difficult to leave their home.
  6. Try to be patient.