Watching someone you care about suffer from depression can be incredibly difficult. All you want to do is help them feel better, but you have no idea what to do. And when it becomes obvious you can’t take the pain away, it can be very frustrating.

As a friend or family member of someone suffering from depression, it’s important to remember that your loved one is dealing with a real medical condition and you are, most likely, not equipped to handle their recovery.

But there are things you can do to support your friend or loved one and help them on their journey back toward health, peace, and contentment.

Here are 4 ways to help someone struggling with depression

Treatment Is Key

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The number one most effective treatment for depression is therapy with a therapist.

Depression is a medical condition and requires therapy from a professional therapist. Do not try to take on someone’s depression by yourself. Yes, offer support, care and compassion. But understand they will need medical therapy for depression, just as they would if their leg was broken. If they do not recognize how important treatment is, do your best to help them understand.

Speak Up

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Talk to your loved one and let them know you are there to help with their depression in any way you can.

Often times when a loved one or friend is suffering from depression, they are the topic of conversation, but not part of it. It’s not enough to talk to other family members and friends to discuss how concerned you are about them. You need to actually let them know you see them suffering and you’re there to help as best you can.

Keep Them Included

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Losing interest in activities is the most common symptoms of depression.

When people suffer from depression, they typically lose interest in activities they once found enjoyable. You can help them by getting them active and part of the world once again. The key is to be patient and stay committed. You can’t force them to take you up on an invitation. So don’t bully or threaten them. Just encourage them as best you can. Should they say “no” to your invite 50 times, don’t give up on them. It may simply take 51 invites.

Be patient, stay committed, and continue to extend your hand. Through regular therapy they will eventually come around and accept your invite – and thank you.

Get Educated

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Learn about depression so you can educate yourself and be a better support.

One of the best things you can do to support someone struggling is to learn as much about it as you can. Chances are, what you’ve seen on TV or read about on Facebook is wrong. Depression looks different in everyone and what will help is different for everyone. It’s a good idea to speak with a therapist to get recommendations of resources that will help you learn more.

Watching a loved one suffer from depression is not easy, but knowing there are ways you can help them will lighten the load for you both.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.