Depression is a chronic physical illness, with symptoms that are mostly invisible. Because of this, understanding depression – and knowing how to help someone with depression – is a challenge to those who are not afflicted. You walk on eggshells, afraid to say the wrong thing. You keep quiet, or give advice, albeit with good intentions, that may not be ideal or realistic for your friend or loved one to follow.

Individuals coping with depression experience more than just crushing sadness. They experience fatigue, they have trouble thinking rationally, and they struggle to establish consistent sleep patterns. They may be irritable, and oftentimes feel anxious and guilty about being a burden to their friends and families. They essentially live in a different world, governed by different social and emotional rules.

Helping someone with depression challenges us to see and experience the world through the eyes of someone who can’t necessarily verbalize what he or she sees and experiences. It requires effort and patience, compassion and empathy. Sometimes it’s not easy – but, then again, it’s never easy for the person who is suffering.


Just be there.
The best thing you can do for someone coping with depression is simply to be there. Listen; don’t offer advice. Let them cry. Show them that they are important to you, ask them how you can help, and extend your love and support.

Don’t criticize or minimize.
You may think that advising a depressed person to “just see the glass as half full” is sound advice. It’s not. Someone suffering from depression has no choice in how they feel, and simply changing their perspective isn’t a realistic option. Likewise, telling a depressed person not to let things get to them – to be more thick-skinned – will minimize their pain and invalidate their very serious experience.

Tough love doesn’t work.
This approach is useless, hurtful and harmful. Depression is a disease. Would you push away or ignore someone struggling with cancer?

Show empathy, not sympathy.
If you are not personally coping with depression, then you cannot understand how a depressed person feels. Assuring your friend or loved one that “you know how they feel” is a well-intended way to push them away and minimize their depressive symptoms.

Don’t play doctor.
When it comes to antidepressants, it seems everyone is a doctor these days. Sometimes, medication or pharmaceutical intervention is necessary in treating depression. Whatever course of medicinal action your loved one is on, support it. However, if your loved one refuses to accept help from a therapist or physician, you should encourage him or her to do so.

Practice patience.
This is the key. Showing your loved one that you’ll be there for them, through thick and thin, no matter how long it takes for them to recover, is a source of hope in and of itself.


Depression is a serious mental health condition that manifests as debilitating sadness, coupled with a loss of energy, pessimism, and diminished motivation. Though your friend or loved one may lash out and say hurtful things, please know that this is the depression talking – don’t take these things personally.

Some of the everyday advice we give (and take) may seem reasonable: look on the bright side, stop focusing on the negative, some fresh air will help. This advice comes from a place of love and care. Unfortunately, it’s largely ineffective for those suffering from depression, and will only make them feel more misunderstood.

You can’t fix another person’s depression, but you can – and should – encourage a depressed person to accept outside help or seek treatment.


If you have questions about the use of ketamine for depression and think it could be a source of hope for your friend or loved one, contact us via the brief form below, or by calling 720.724.8075. We are happy to answer questions, address concerns and discuss the best way to help the people who are suffering in your life.

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