I’m Caring For Someone With Depression
We all feel sad sometimes and we all have ups and downs. It’s a normal part of life. However, if a person is feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis, they could be dealing with depression. Depression is a long-lasting mood disorder and one of the most common mental illnesses. It affects a person’s ability to do everyday tasks, feel pleasure or take interest in activities.
Depression is often a co-occurring condition in people who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting or life-threatening illness, such as cancer or ALS, or have had a traumatic experience, such as a stroke or a brain injury.
The following symptoms may indicate if a person is experiencing depression:
- Feeling sad, irritable or angry for most of the day and/or every day for over two weeks
- Feeling empty or hopeless
- Losing interest or enjoyment in activities they used to enjoy
- Disturbed sleep – sleeping too much or not getting enough sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of self-confidence
- Having thoughts of self-harm
Here are some suggestions for providing practical day to day support to someone with depression:
- Be a good listener and reassure them that you are there for support
- Encourage them to get professional help – there are different therapies and medications that could help
- Offer to make appointments for them and accompany them to the appointments
- Make note of their symptoms and/or any changes in their symptoms
- Help them prepare a list of questions to ask the doctor or psychotherapist
- Take them seriously if they are thinking about suicide and seek professional help. It helps to have a number for a 24/7 crisis hotline, like Crisis Service Canada (1-833-456-4566) available if the person you’re caring for needs it. If you believe the person is in immediate danger, do not leave them alone. Call 911 and stay with them until help arrives.
- Be sure to take care of yourself, too, and seek help from a therapist or support group. As a caregiver, you can call Crisis Service Canada (1-833-456-4566) to receive support if you are supporting someone who has thoughts of suicide
When you are caring for someone who is depressed, you may worry about what to say or not to say. Here are some tips.
Use phrases such as:
- I am here for you
- You’re not alone in this
- I might not understand exactly how you feel right now, but I want to help
- Tell me what I can do to help
Avoid phrases such as:
- This is just a phase; it will pass
- Everyone feels this way sometimes
- Why can’t you stay positive?
- Snap out of it
- For help coping with specific behaviours, see also, I’m caring for someone with a mental illness
- Connect with Bounceback – a free skill-building program designed to help youth 15+ and adults manage symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Reach out to ConnexOntario for free health services information for people experiencing problems with mental illness, alcohol or drugs at connexontario.ca/en-ca/about-us or call 1-866-531-2600. This is available 24/7.
- Contact the Kids Help Phone – visit kidshelphone.ca, call 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868. This is available 24/7 and offers support through live chat, text, and phone.
- Connect with other young caregivers in our online peer support group or be part of the conversation in our online forum
Not sure where to start? Call our 24/7 helpline or talk to us in our live chat to find resources in your community.