3 Ways to Help a Friend Struggling with Depression

Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health1. This mood disorder causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest, says Mayo Clinic2. Depression can affect how a person feels, thinks and behaves, leading to an array of emotional and physical problems.

Know the signs of depression

Because depression symptoms can vary, it’s important to know what to look for. According to Mayo Clinic3, your friend might be dealing with depression if they:

  • Express feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Have angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Lose interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities
  • Complain of insomnia or sleep too much
  • Feel tired and lack energy to do even small tasks
  • Don’t have much of an appetite or gain a lot of weight
  • Express feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Talk about death or suicide

Ways to help someone who may be depressed

At first, seeing your friend struggle with depression might put a strain on your friendship, but now is the time they need you the most. Here’s what you can do to help.

Keep inviting your friend out — and offer to lend a hand

Your friend might have a difficult time reaching out to you and keeping plans. Healthline4 shares a few tips that may help:

  • Consistently extend invitations to activities, even if they turn you down.
  • Tell them there’s no pressure to accept invitations.
  • Remind them you’re happy to see them, whenever they feel ready.

Keep in mind that your friend might need help completing basic tasks. That’s because with depression, things like doing the laundry or paying bills can start to feel overwhelming. Just doing a simple task like running to the grocery store for your friend can make a big difference in their day.

Help them find support

According to Mayo Clinic5, most people who suffer from depression feel better with medication, psychotherapy or both. But sometimes, your friend might not know where to get support. That’s where you can help. For example, Healthline6 suggests that if your friend seems interested in counseling, you could offer to review potential therapists.

Here are two other phone numbers your friend might find helpful:

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).


  1. “Major Depression,” National Institute of Mental Health, last accessed December 28, 2021, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.
  2. Depression (major depressive disorder),” Mayo Clinic, last accessed December 28, 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007.
  3. “Depression (major depressive disorder).”
  4. “How to Help Someone with Depression,” Healthline, last accessed December 28, 2021, https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-help-a-depressed-friend.
  5. “Depression (major depressive disorder).”
  6. “How to Help Someone with Depression.”