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How to Speak to Someone Who Is Suddenly Depressed

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If you come across someone who is depressed – such as a family member, friend, or co-worker – it’s important that you do your part in providing help. There’s only so much you can do, and you must be careful that you take caution. However, taking action is better than doing nothing at all. 

So, this leads to the question: what’s the best way to speak to someone who is suddenly depressed?

Since no two people are the same, there’s no right or wrong answer. But there are definitely things you can do to make the conversation more meaningful.

Here are five tips:

Hear them out

There are times to speak and times to listen. Don’t get in the other person’s way. Give them an ear and a shoulder to lean on. Sometimes, all a person needs is someone to talk with when things are going bad.

Once you hear what they have to say, you can then decide what to do next. Maybe you can give them all the assistance they need. Or perhaps you need to bring someone else into the mix (read below) to ensure their safety. 

Being a good listener will go a long way in helping the person stabilise and hopefully move past their current state. 

Tell them you care

It’s one thing to listen. It’s another thing entirely to tell the person that you care. And if you want to go one step further, show them that you care. For example, you could stay with them overnight to ensure that they’re safe. Or you could invite them out to dinner as a means of showing your true feelings.

When it’s your turn to talk, tell the person that you care about them inside and out. A few words could go a long way in changing their outlook on life.

Offer your help

There are times when you need to take the extra step, and that often means offering your help. What that means, on the other hand, depends on the circumstances. All you can do is offer your help and wait to see what the person says. They may not even know what type of help they want or need, but be clear that they have a standing offer.

The last thing you want is for the other person to think that you’re paying them lip service. Back up your words with action when applicable. 

Offer to get them professional help

While it’s not always a good idea to take action on your own, you may want to ask the person if they want professional help. This is often the difference between overcoming depression and letting it linger to the point of causing additional problems.

For instance, their depression may be a result of substance abuse. In this case, contact The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. As a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services, you can rest assured that they’ll be able to point you and your loved one in the right direction. 

From a doctor to a therapist to a treatment centre, there’s plenty of help to be had. 

Get others involved

Maybe you’re helping a friend deal with their depression. And maybe this friend is keeping their problem from other people in their life, such as their parents or a spouse. You don’t want to bring drama to an already difficult situation, but there are times when you need to get others involved. 

The best thing you can do is ask the person if they want other people to know what they are going through. And if they’re open to the idea, you can help them let these people into their lives to provide additional assistance.

Tip: depression is a serious mental health concern, so do whatever it takes to ensure that your loved one doesn’t harm him or herself. 

Final thoughts

These are the types of steps you can take to better communicate with someone who is depressed. It’s never an easy discussion to have, but it’s important to do your best to provide comfort during a difficult time.

And of course, if you have any reason to believe the person needs treatment for SI, be sure that you take immediate action.


Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.

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