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

3-minute read

If someone you know has depression, you may find it difficult to figure out 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, ruok.org.au 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 ruok.org.au 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 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 two to four weeks, but it can take eight 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 they are 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

Last reviewed: March 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

How to help a friend with depression | Depression | ReachOut Australia

Find out why support from friends and family is important, and check out the tips for helping someone through depression.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

How to help when someone is suicidal

If you believe someone is thinking about ending their life, it’s natural to feel panic or even want to avoid thinking about it – however, there are a number of practical things you can do to help . . .

Read more on Mi Networks website

Supporting someone with anxiety or depression

Helpful information for support people, friends and relatives of people who are dealing with depression/anxiety

Read more on beyondblue website

How to help a friend who self-harms | Self-harm | ReachOut Australia

Its not always easy to tell if someone is self-harming, but if youre worried about a friend, its important to know what signs to look for.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Amy's story about the importance of finding someone to talk to | Suicide | ReachOut Australia

Amy tells how finding someone she could talk to helped her overcome depression and thoughts of suicide.

Read more on ReachOut.com website

Helping someone else

Support from friends and family plays a significant role in recovery from a mental health issue. Tips, materials, links on how to support someone

Read more on Black Dog Institute 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 ReachOut.com website

Identifying postnatal and antenatal depression and finding help

Many parents, predominantly mothers, had either been diagnosed with or self-identified as experiencing antenatal or postnatal depression or anxiety. Several others experienced significant distress but were unsure if this could be considered antenatal or postnatal depression.

Read more on Healthtalk Australia website

How a psychiatrist can help your child | Raising Children Network

A psychiatrist can help if your child has an emotional problem like severe anxiety or depression or another mental illness. Find out more.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Dealing with someone with anger issues | Anger | ReachOut Australia

Find out about common causes of ongoing anger and how to tell when its becoming a problem, and learn what you can do about it.

Read more on ReachOut.com 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 Government of Western Australia, health department logo