How To Help Someone With Depression To Get Help

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis, LCMHC
Updated July 16, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, also known as the crisis lifeline, at 988. Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate depression and suicide prevention resources.

Are you looking for depression treatment?

Have you been concerned about someone who is experiencing depression but wondering how to get them help? Many people feel uncertain how to help a loved one in this situation. It can be difficult to watch a loved one experience symptoms of depression, but help is available—both for the individual with depression and for their loved ones. 

What is depression?

The American Psychological Association defines depression in the following way: 

“Depression is extreme sadness or despair that lasts more than days. It interferes with the activities of daily life and can cause physical symptoms such as pain, weight loss or gain, sleeping pattern disruptions, or lack of energy.

People with depression may also experience an inability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.”*

Depression isn't just the mild feeling of disappointment or sadness that a person might feel at times, and it’s different from bipolar disorder. For some people, depression is an everyday occurrence when they have a depressive episode. The negative feelings about themselves, their life, and everything around them may present significant challenges, and it may be difficult to escape that negative thought cycle. Whereas many of us may feel upset at times and pick ourselves up, this can be difficult for someone experiencing depression.

There are several types of depression, and one of the main types is major depressive disorder. Major depressive disorder can influence how a person thinks, feels, and acts. For example, depression can lead a person to withdraw from others and stop feeling interested in things they typically enjoy, which can lead to worsening depression symptoms. In the end, they may become caught in a cycle wherein their depression keeps them from participating but simultaneously makes them feel worse for not participating.


Symptoms of depression

The symptoms of depression can include extended periods of sadness and hopelessness that seem to come out of nowhere, or they may be disproportionate to a loss or event that a person experiences.

A person experiencing depression may avoid spending time with others, including friends and family, and they may experience feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

Also, someone living with depression may experience side effects such as trouble sleeping or seeming to sleep too much. They may have less energy and have trouble thinking or making decisions.

If these symptoms last for over two weeks, it could result in a diagnosis of depression. However, each person can experience depression differently. Changes in behavior may be a sign of something important, so if you notice them, you may want to continue to monitor those changes and speak with a mental health professional about them.

What to do if someone you know has depression

If you know someone with depression, one thing you can do is make sure they know that you are there for them. Depression is a condition that can isolate people and make them feel hopeless. By asking questions about what your loved one is thinking and experiencing, you might create a lifeline that may lead them to get help.

By talking with them, you might better understand their thought process and how they view their current situation. You might gather information about how long they have felt this way, whether they are having thoughts of suicide, and if they are willing to accept help to address their depression and mental health.

Someone with depression may discuss obstacles or reasons not to get help. For example, they may have a negative view of medication or therapy. Whatever the reason, it can be challenging to convince someone to get help, but there are alternatives available that might suit them, including online therapy.

Convincing a loved one to get help

When trying to convince a loved one to seek help for depression, you may find that talking to them about their self-worth doesn’t seem to work. It may help to talk to them about how their condition may be affecting those around them. Many people, especially those who have depression, may believe that someone else's worth is greater than their own and may be willing to seek treatment to help someone they love, like a child or partner, rather than to help themselves. By appealing to this part of them, you may be able to help them along a path to recovery, though they may still be somewhat reluctant to get help.

Are you looking for depression treatment?

As mentioned above, convincing someone with depression of their self-worth can be a challenging way to get them to seek treatment and help. Still, helping them to see their self-worth may be an essential aspect of the treatment process. By talking with them, spending time with them, reminding them that they are not alone, and showing your support, you may convince them to get help for themselves.

If your loved one doesn’t feel comfortable traveling to a therapist’s office, they might agree to try online therapy, which research has shown to be effective for depression. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, they can talk to a therapist via video chat or with audio alone if that makes them feel more comfortable. They can also send messages to their therapist at any time via in-app messaging, and their therapist will respond as soon as they can. 


If you know someone such as a friend or family member who needs professional help with depression, it may be challenging to convince them to seek help. However, there are treatment options that they may agree to, such as online therapy or support groups. Also, caring for a loved one experiencing depression can be challenging. You might benefit from speaking with a licensed therapist who understands the experience of family and friends of individuals with depression. Take the first step to getting help with depression and reach out to BetterHelp today.
Depression is treatable, and you're not alone
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