All too often, men feel ashamed about their depression and mistakenly believe they should be able to overcome it with willpower alone. But depression seldom gets better without treatment and may get worse. Help the person you care about recognize the symptoms of depression and get treatment.

Do’s and Don’ts

It’s not always easy to know how to help someone who may be experiencing depression. It can be hard to know what to say or do. Here are some tips.

Do – you can help someone by:

  • Talking to the person about what you’ve noticed and why you’re concerned.
  • Suggesting that the person seek professional help from their GP or a mental health professional such as a psychologist.
  • Offering to help prepare a list of questions for the person to discuss in an initial appointment with GP or psychologist.
  • Expressing your willingness to help by making the appointment and/or going with them to see a doctor or mental health professional.
  • Asking how their appointment went
  • Talking openly about depression and assisting them to find information
  • Encouraging them to exercise, eat well and become involved in social activities
  • Keeping in touch and encouraging close friends and family to do the same.

Don’t – it’s unhelpful to:
  • Dismiss their feelings by saying things like “snap out of it” or “pull yourself together.”
  • Force someone who is depressed to socialize or take on too many activities that can result in failure and increased feelings of worthlessness.
  • Pressure them to ‘snap out of it’, ‘get their act together’ or ‘cheer up’
  • Stay away or avoid them
  • Tell them they just need to stay busy or get out more
  • Assume the problem will just go away.
  • Agree with negative views. Negative thoughts are a symptom of depression. You need to continue to present a realistic picture by expressing hope that the situation will get better.
If your conversation becomes difficult or the person you’re talking to gets angry stay calm and don’t lose control.  Often, just spending time with the person lets them know you care and can help you understand what they’re going through.   Take care of yourself as supporting someone with depression can be demanding, so make sure you take some ‘time out’ to look after yourself.

If your loved one’s illness is severe or potentially life-threatening, contact a doctor, a hospital or emergency medical services yourself