Depression - For Family and Friends
If someone you care about is
depressed, you may feel helpless. Maybe you're
watching a once-active or happy person slide into inactivity or you're seeing a
good friend lose interest in favorite activities. The change in your loved
one's or friend's behavior may be so big that you feel you no longer know him
Here are some things you can do to help:
Help with the basics
You can also help the person
have good health habits. Encourage him or her to:
Depression and suicide
Depression can lead to suicide. Call911 or the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or other emergency services if the person:
- Plans to harm himself or herself or others.
writes, reads, or draws about death, including writing suicide notes and
talking about items that can harm him or her, such as pills, guns, or
- Buys guns or bullets, stockpiles medicines, or takes other
action to prepare for a suicide attempt. The person may have a new interest in
guns or other weapons.
- Hears or sees things that aren't real.
- Thinks or speaks in a bizarre way that is not usual.
depression and suicide and the
warning signs of suicide, such as giving away things
or suddenly using alcohol or drugs.
If a person or family member
who is depressed talks about suicide and has a plan and a way to carry it out,
follow these guidelines.
- Stay with the person, or ask someone you
trust to stay with the person, until the crisis has passed.
- Don't argue with the person ("It's not as bad
as you think") or challenge him or her ("You're not the type to commit
- Tell the person you don't want him or her to die. Talk
about the situation as openly as possible.
If you are spending a lot of time
helping or caring for someone who has depression, find your own support. This
can help you deal with the illness. These
caregiver tips also can help you.
- Don't help too much. A common mistake caregivers make is
providing too much care. Even if they don't say so, people like to help
themselves. Take some time off.
- Don't do it alone. Ask others to help you, or join a support
group. The more support you have, the more help you can give.
- Get help from a local organization. Your city or state may have
programs to help you. Ask at your local or state health department. The
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides contact information for
support organizations nationwide. Go to www.nami.org and choose "Find