Supporting someone with depression

Find your words to help someone you care about

Talking about depression can be tough, but it’s important. Silence drives stigma — negative, unfair, and untrue beliefs that can lead to feelings of shame and isolation. Stigma can cause people living with depression to feel embarrassed or afraid to reach out for help, which can make the road to recovery longer and more painful than it needs to be.

Treatment for depression works — but people who feel like they need to keep their depression hidden are far less likely to seek help. It’s time to talk openly about depression, like we talk about other health conditions like diabetes or asthma. When silence ends, healing can begin.

What you can do

For someone living with depression, supportive friends and family members can make all the difference. You can’t take their depression away, but you can give them support, encouragement, and hope.

  • Learn about depression

    Take time to find out about depression and how it can be treated. Because if you know what to do and what to say, you can make a difference in someone’s life. Taking a Mental Health First Aid class is a great way to learn how to recognize and respond to someone experiencing depression.

  • Listen with an open mind

    When someone tells you they’re depressed, one of the most meaningful things you can do is listen without judgement. Don’t try to give advice — just help them feel heard, understood, and accepted.

  • Help them get help

    Let them know that depression is common — and that help is available. Encourage them to reach out to a doctor or therapist, and offer to help them do that if you think it’s appropriate.


  • Stay connected

    Check in often with the person you’re supporting. You may want to ask them how they’re doing, invite them to spend time with you, or offer to help with everyday tasks. The important thing is to show up, listen, and show that you care.

What you can say

If someone told you they were depressed, would you know what to say? Would you feel ready to approach a friend or family member and ask if they’re OK? If you can find your words, you can help.

Things to keep in mind

There’s no right or wrong way to be supportive. Every relationship is different, just like everyone’s experience with depression is unique. But there are some things to keep in mind when you want to help someone you care about.


Insights from our national poll

Too many people struggle in silence

  • suspect that someone they know has a mental health condition, but isn’t telling them.

  • of those people have started the conversation — and encouraged their loved one to seek professional support.

Source: Kaiser Permanente commissioned KRC Research to conduct a 15-minute online survey among a total of 3,005 U.S. adults from August 10–16, 2017.