How to help someone with depression who won’t ask for help

I’ve been asked a few times how you help someone struggling through depression, especially when they seem to not want help themselves. It’s a tricky one and not one I have all the answers to, but I want to say what has helped me most.

I am great at pretending that I’m ok, but the closest to me can often sense when I am struggling. I often go on the route of shutting myself off, not writing, staying off social media and not replying to messages. I shut down and by doing this I am cutting myself off and making the problem worse. The whole time I am screaming from the inside for someone to ask if I am ok.

I find it much easier to write than talk and my friends know they are more likely to get a response over text than and phone call, but at times I can be very brief and dismissive. When depression is kicking me down I feel I lose the ability to speak, to explain and ask for help. It’s scary and very isolating to feel like you want to scream, but are too scared to do so.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is just to turn up, be patient, empathetic and let them open up naturally. Ask if they are ok, but care about their answer and give them time to express. Not everyone is the same, but by taking the steps to ask if someone is ok, you are helping and giving them a chance to open up.

With depression I often have felt paranoid and thought people have been talking about me, mocking me and bitching about what a burden I am. There is nothing worse than feeling like a burden to someone and it makes me shut down immediately, feeling worse off than when I started. Be reassuring, without patronising and be honest and open up about your own feelings. By sharing your own experiences you are helping them not feel so alone. Loneliness and depression go hand in hand.

If a friend or loved one is struggling with depression don’t just offer an open door, you need open the door for them, pick them up and ask them if they are ok. You are not intruding, you are showing them love that they need and a chance to share their problem. It’s not easy and can be lots to take on, but the gift you can give to someone by being open could save a life.

We have a responsibility as a society to help others, show them love and respect. We all get caught up in our own lives, but take a moment to ask someone if they are ok and listen intently to their response. Pick up on clues in their behaviour and remind them they are not alone and never will be. Your friendship is a gift.

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24 thoughts on “How to help someone with depression who won’t ask for help

  1. This is so good. As a fellow sufferer from depression, I would add that we can get conditioned to giving a “yes I’m fine” response when asked if we are OK the first time and sometimes may need a bit more gentle nudging to open up, which is what we often want and need to do. #BrilliantBlogPosts

  2. My husband suffers from depression and it took him a very long time to realise that there was a problem prior to his diagnosis. Countless times I would ask if he was okay only to be told ‘I’m fine’. I knew of course, that he wasn’t and just kept pestering. Little did I know that this actually made matters worse! Thankfully it got to the point that he realised that there was something very wrong and he went to the doctors to begin his recovery. I stopped pestering and eventually, he opened up. Whilst depression is obviously very hard for the sufferer, it can be really hard for the person living with them (I wrote a post a while back, search ‘depression’ on my blog if you are interested). It’s such a sensitive area and support is paramount. Thanks for sharing this. Great post. #FamilyFunLinky
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  3. This is brilliant. Patience is definitely key. Depression is really isolating and it’s so important to offer people reassurance that you are there for them no matter what #brillblogposts

  4. This is great, and just what I needed to read. I have suffered with depression myself in the past and unfortunately I can feeling it starting to sink back in again. I have just miscarried an ectopic baby and I am completely devastated but i need to remind myself that grieving is ok and that i need to talk to people and not shut them out. Otherwise i may find myself back there again. Thank you for such a great post. #Familyfun

    1. I’m so sorry Sam, that must be incredibly hard for you. I have lost too and it’s so tough to get through, but you will come out the other side. Keep positive, be kind and remember to seek support. Always here for a chat, stay strong x

  5. I read some of your comments and picked up on the are you okay? “Yes I’m fine” answer… this is a typical answer for me when people ask how I am, especially newer mum friends. What I often wished I’d replied is no, I’m tired, I been up since 4, the kid is being shit, I’m struggling, can’t cope… the art of listening and wanting to be listened too is one I’m still learning. Good post my lovely x
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  6. Wonderful post. The more we talking about mental illness the more we’re smashing that stigma that in my opinion is still commonplace. Your friendship is a gift is SO true. Just knowing there’s someone you can talk to, offload on or who understands will help in so many ways. Thanks for sharing with #GlobalBlogging
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  7. Depression is such an important topic to talk about, to break the stigma and to let people know how they can help. Can you update the #fortheloveofBLOG linky link in your sidebar to the new one? You can find it on my site if you need the fresh copy as we have a new logo xx

  8. It can surely mean so much to someone who is silently struggling to know that there is at least one person in their life that cares enough to ask how they are and offer support. I would also add that if a person is not quite ready for that support, it could be frustrating to the person who wants to help. Sometimes just knowing there is help out there to reach for can be a huge relief! Thank you for writing this valuable post.

  9. Great advice. I think your point about not just offering, but actually going to pick the person up, is really important. When someone is depressed, their mind can often twist people’s words and they can believe that people don’t really care about them or are only offering because they have to and they don’t really mean it. By being proactive and going to pick the person up, you are showing that you really meant what you said and that you are there for them.

    Also, congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the #blogcrush linky. Feel free to collect your “featured” blog badge #blogcrush
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