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How to Help Someone with Depression

writtenByWritten by: Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse
Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa Chatham Registered Nurse

Tessa is a MSN prepared Registered Nurse with 10 years of critical care experience in healthcare. When not practicing clinical nursing, she enjoys academic writing and is passionate about helping those affected by medical aliments live healthy lives.

Read more posts by this author.

January 7, 2021 Read Time - 10 minutes

Helping Someone When They’re Depressed

We live in unprecedented times.

Covid-19 has caused added stress on everyone throughout the world. According to the CDC, mental health, substance abuse and suicidal ideation have increased during the pandemic. 

People already dealing with depression prior to covid-19 are seeing an increase in symptoms. During late June 2020 40% of US adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse, and 11% seriously considered suicide. 

It can be hard to watch someone you care about struggle with depression. When we see family and friends going through this illness it’s only natural to want to help. There are many things you can do to support someone who is dealing with depression. It’s important to approach the situation carefully to ensure that you do not accidentally push your loved one away. 

Read on to learn more about how to help someone when they’re depressed. 

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  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

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How Do You Help a Friend With Depression? 

To help someone with depression, first voice your concern that they’re depressed. Come from a place of love and clearly communicate your concern and that you are there to support them through this time. 

Other things you can do to help someone with depression include:

  • Spend time together
  • Reach out and stay connected
  • Discuss resources available at work or school
  • Express concern about depression symptoms
  • Suggest therapy for depression
  • Express your support for them to get better
  • Affirm that their feelings make sense
  • Do not minimize their pain or try to cheer them up
  • Offer physical affection if appropriate
  • Suggest action steps to get treatment

Signs of Depression to Look For

If you’re concerned someone close to you is suffering from depression we’ve outlined some common signs and symptoms to look out for that may be indicators of depression. 

Happiness is certainly subjective, but clinical depression symptoms are consistent among many people diagnosed. 

Signs of depression to look for include:

  • Low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Feeling like you are physically moving slower or faster than normal
  • Thinking about death or suicide
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Changes in sleep patterns (too much or too little, difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
  • Restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Crying for no reason

Spotting High Functioning Depression in Someone You Care About 

Depression has many faces. You may never know someone is struggling with depression because they are high functioning. High functioning depression is when a person has clinical depression symptoms but forges ahead in an effort to succeed with goals. 

This means that people with high-functioning depression may still be able to complete daily tasks and appear healthy, which often leads them to deal with their illness alone. 

But people with high functioning depression need support and treatment as well. Just as someone with a substance abuse problem who can still get up and go to work needs treatment, someone with high-functioning depression still needs help.

Someone who is living with high functioning depression may seem as if they are just “going through the motions” of life but they aren’t present or able to enjoy the things they used to.

If you notice something seems off with a loved one, check in with them. Ask them how they’re feeling and if there’s anything you can do to support them. Sometimes a simple act of compassion, such as asking “are you okay?” can be the difference between someone seeking help and continuing to suffer alone. 

Depression Help, Know Your Options

One great way to offer support to someone you care about who is struggling with depression is to help them navigate their treatment options and the resources available to them. 

The following resources are important for anyone struggling with depression to be aware of.

The US Department of Health and Human Services

The US Department of Health and Human Services offers assistance for people struggling with mental health. 

The department leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation and is a great resource for understanding your options. They can answer common questions regarding health insurance and mental health and even offer free mental health help to veterans and service members, among other services. 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

If you or a loved one is suicidal call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) 24 hours a day. This lifeline will connect you with trained counselors who can help in a crisis situation. 

Depression Treatment, Finding a Care Plan

There are many different treatment approaches for depression. From medication to therapy to natural remedies, the solution varies for each individual. Here we’ve outlined some of the most common treatment options for depression.

It’s important to work with a doctor to determine a care plan that’s right for you. 

Depression Medication

There are many classes of medication that are known to improve depression symptoms.

Which Prescription Medications are the Best to Treat Depression?

Antidepressants have been clinically proven to be the best medications to treat depression with about 60% of users feeling better within six to eight weeks.  

In 1987, Prozac was introduced into medicine as the first antidepressant. Now, hundreds of  prescription medications are available to treat depression and anxiety. 

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors

The most commonly prescribed antidepressants include SSRI medication, also known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. 

Serotonin is a chemical in your brain that affects mood, learning and memory. Patients diagnosed with depression often have a deficit of this chemical. 

SSRI medications increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, thus improving depression symptoms. 

Some examples of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants are:

  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Trintellix (vortioxetine)

Other categories of medicines for depression are available. These include: 

  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI)
  • Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants
  • Atypical antidepressants
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors 
  • N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) antagonist
  • Neuroactive Steroid Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid- A Receptor Positive Modulator

Which is the Best Antidepressant For Depression?

There is not one best antidepressant. It comes down to patient preference as well as trial and error. 

Many healthcare providers have a handful of preferred antidepressants they prescribe first, because most patients seem to respond positively to those medications. 

When on antidepressants you may notice that something that used to bother you, no longer does. Or that you are able to tackle problems in stride instead of hiding from them. 


Read: Outpatient Mental Health


Therapy for Depression

Therapy is also proven to help with depression when provided by a professional. There are many misconceptions that therapy is expensive and time consuming, leading many people to believe they can’t afford it, or make time for it.  

While this may be true in some instances, there are more affordable and convenient options with the same great benefits. 

Online therapy is an example of how traditional services are being converted into virtual experiences, available anywhere, anytime, and typically at a more affordable price point. 

PlushCare offers weekly online therapy sessions with a board-certified therapist for as low as $33/session. Meet with your trusted therapist face-to-face once a week for a 45 minute video therapy session

Our top therapists help with all types of mental health conditions, most commonly depression and anxiety. 

If someone you know is struggling with depression, you can recommend they try therapy. 

Therapies available to treat depression include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Exposure Therapy
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Relaxation Techniques
  • Biofeedback
  • Hypnosis

The goal of therapy is to reduce depression symptoms, give peace of mind and overcome problems with daily life. 

  • Browse our network of top therapist to find one that matches your needs.

  • Get private and secure emotional support weekly from your dedicated therapist.

  • Experience comprehensive care with unlimited access to your care team and primary care physician.

Talk to an Online Therapist PlushCare-App-Steps

What Therapy is Best for Depression? 

Research suggests that CBT is seen as the best kind of therapy for depression and anxiety. CBT changes negative thought patterns and is a widely used therapy for depression. 

One size does not fit all for depression treatment. Overcoming depression disorders takes time and dedication to your care plan, weather that’s medication, therapy, or both.

Natural Depression Treatment

While antidepressants and/or therapy are typically the first line of treatment for depression, there are natural remedies that can be utilized as well. That said, it is important to speak with your doctor about which treatment method is best for you before self-treating. 

If you and your doctor decide to try a holistic approach, there are some natural depression treatment options. 

Natural depression treatments include:

  • Consistent exercise
  • Meditation or Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Light therapy (phototherapy)
  • Supplements
    • Omega 3
    • Zinc
    • Magnesium
    • Folate
  • Herbal supplements
    • St. John’s Wort
    • Saffron
    • SAM-e
  • Herbal teas
    • Valerian
    • Lemon balm
    • Chamomile
    • Lavender
  • Massage therapy
  • Music therapy
  • CBT therapy
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

Some of the above remedies may negatively interact with certain medications and conditions, it is important to consult with a doctor before starting any new depression treatment remedies.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Foods that Help Depression

Some foods are thought to help with depression. Overall, a healthy diet and exercise helps reduce the symptoms of depression. Some foods are thought to be natural “antidepressants.” 

Recent studies show that foods most beneficial for people who suffer from depression include:

  • Oysters
  • Muscles
  • Salmon
  • Lean, organ meats
  • Leafy greens
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower

To boost your mental health, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables along with foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Dark, green leafy vegetables are brain nutrients as well as nuts seeds and legumes. 

Foods that do not help depression and those that should be avoided include:

  • Refined foods
  • Processed foods
  • High sugary foods
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

There is a clear link between alcohol and mental health problems. Alcohol should be avoided if you suffer from mental health issues.

Get Depression Treatment Online

Do not wait for your depression to get better on its own. If you have symptoms of depression, make an appointment with PlushCare today to speak with a doctor or therapist. Getting depression help may feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Generally, the earlier you seek treatment, the easier your path to recovery is. 

PlushCare’s PCPs can prescribe antidepressants and are available 24/7. If you prefer to start with therapy to treat your depression, PlushCare has certified therapists available to speak with you.

We can also help patients who are looking for a combination of both medication and therapy. Our therapists and doctors will work together to ensure that you are getting the highest level of care possible. 

You can schedule an appointment to speak with a board-certified physician or therapist about your depression symptoms by clicking here


Read More About How to Help Someone With Depression


References

US Department of Health and Human Services. Get Help. Accessed January 6, 2021, https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2020). Managing stress and anxiety. Accessed December 24, 2020 at https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). National center for health statistics. ICD-10 2e Volume 1. Accessed on December 24, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/dvs/2e_volume1_2015.pdf

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the Covid-19 pandemic- United States, June 24-30, 2020. Accessed on December 24, 2020 at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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