Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

How to help someone with depression

4-minute read

If someone you know has depression, you may find it difficult to know how to support them. What you find simple may seem overwhelming to them. Below are some tips on how to support someone with depression.

How to recognise the signs of depression

If someone you know has depression, they may show some of the following signs:

Things you can do to help someone with depression

First of all, it’s important to understand they have an illness and can’t just ‘snap out of it'. If they haven’t already seen a doctor or other health professional about depression, encourage them to do so. It can help to have a diagnosis and to talk about treatment. You might need to help them make an appointment.

However, the person may not want to seek help. If so, it might help to explain why you are concerned and to offer them information, such as a book or fact sheets. If that doesn’t work, then wait and try again later.

People with mental illness may face stigma. Try to listen to them without judgement - they need your support more than your advice.

Talking to someone with depression

Here are some tips to help you when speaking to someone with a mental illness. If you’re unsure where to start, provides some simple advice:

  • Be ready - are you in a good headspace, and do you have the time?
  • Be prepared - are you ready for a difficult conversation where you don’t have the answers?
  • Pick your moment - have you chosen somewhere comfortable to talk, and an appropriate time?

You can find more helpful tips at and beyondblue.

Seeking help together

Treatment can include medication and therapy, and a mental health care plan helps with the cost. Someone with depression often feels unmotivated; below are some ways you might support them:

  • Offer to find a health professional and to go to the appointment with them, if you feel comfortable with this and they want you to.
  • Encourage them to do regular exercise, eat healthy food and drink less alcohol, to help speed up their recovery. Do this with them, if you can.
  • Support them in taking their medication. Many people will start to feel better in 2 to 4 weeks, but it can take 8 weeks for antidepressants to reach full effectiveness. Some people want to stop taking medication when they feel better, but they should talk to their doctor or nurse first.

Worried about suicide?

Take any talk about suicide seriously. Call triple zero (000) if someone is in immediate danger. A number of crisis support services and helplines can help.

Looking after yourself

The symptoms of depression also affect family and friends, so it’s important to look after yourself and to set boundaries around what you are willing to do.

Visit Carer Gateway to get tips for carers on how to keep physically and mentally healthy.

Where to get help and more information

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2021

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Getting help: support for expecting and new dads | PANDA

If you are a expecting or new dad and you are struggling with how you feel, or not feeling how you expected to feel, it’s important to speak to someone.

Read more on Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) website

Professional help | ReachOut Australia

Mental health professionals have trained for years to help people. When you're going through a tough situation, it helps to have someone in your corner who knows what to do.

Read more on website

Supporting someone with depression or anxiety - Beyond Blue

We have helpful information and resources for support people, friends and relatives of people who are dealing with depression/anxiety.

Read more on Beyond Blue website

Help with Perinatal Anxiety and Depression

Help with Perinatal Anxiety. Downloadable information sheets to help you with Perinatal Anxiety. There

Read more on Gidget Foundation Australia website

Getting help for postnatal mental health conditions - COPE

COPE's purpose is to prevent and improve the quality of life of those living with emotional and mental health problems that occur prior to and within the perinatal period.

Read more on COPE - Centre of Perinatal Excellence website

e-couch Self Help

e-couch provides free, self-help modules for depression, general anxiety and social anxiety, as well as for divorce/separation and loss/bereavement. e-couch tool-kits teach skills drawn from a range of evidence-based therapies.

Read more on e-hub Web Services - Australian National University (ANU) website

Postnatal depression: supporting a partner | Raising Children Network

If your partner is diagnosed with postnatal depression, you can help in many ways. It’s also very important to help your partner get professional support.

Read more on website

Anxiety & Depression in Pregnancy & Early Parenthood

If you are reading this, you may have concerns about your thoughts, feelings or behaviours, or those of your partner or someone close to you who is pregnant or recently had a baby.

Read more on Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) website

Antenatal & postnatal depression in men | Raising Children Network

Men can get antenatal depression and postnatal depression. If you’re a man with symptoms of antenatal depression or PND, don’t ignore them – seek help.

Read more on website

Antenatal & postnatal depression: women | Raising Children Network

Antenatal depression and postnatal depression are more than pregnancy ups and downs or baby blues. If you have symptoms, it’s a good idea to seek help.

Read more on website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Victorian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.