How to Help a Loved One with Depression

Nov 4, 2022 | Blog, Adolescent Treatment, Adult Treatment, Anxiety, Depression, Helping a Loved One, Mental Health, Suicide

Depression hurts.  If you have a loved one who is severely depressed, you see this hurt and experience some of the hopelessness of watching them suffer.  Living with someone who is depressed is often hard.  Depression is often debilitating and can begin to take away a person’s desire to live.

Depression is more than just having an occasional down day.  When a person becomes depressed, they feel down continuously.  They begin to feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless.  They may ruminate over mistakes or problems from the past and have difficulty finding joy in anything.  No matter how much you try to reassure them or care for them when a person is depressed they often go back to the thought that life is just not worth living.

How do you know if your loved one is depressed?

If you are reading this article, you have probably already seen signs of depression in your loved one.  To give you guidance, we have listed some of the most common signs of depression and some of the common phrases that are often spoken during bouts of depression.

Common Symptoms of Depression
  • Loss of interest in almost all activities
  • Depressed mood on most days
  • Significant weight changes
  • Significant problems with sleep (either sleeping too much or being unable to sleep.)
  • Constant fatigue
  • Crying for no reason
  • Feelings of agitation
  • Increased physical pain
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Thoughts of death, dying, and suicide

Any of these individual symptoms are cause for concern.  When you put them together, you can see how debilitating depression becomes.

Some of the common phrases that come with depression
  • “I don’t feel like doing anything.”
  • “I just don’t care anymore.”
  • “I am tired all of the time.”
  • “I just want to go to sleep and not wake up.”
  • “My body aches all of the time.”
  • “What’s the point, it doesn’t matter anyway.”
  • “No one cares.”
  • “I’m worthless.”
  • “Things are never going to get better.”
  • “I feel guilty about …….”
  • “I hate my life.”
  • “I don’t know why I’m crying.”
  • “I feel like crying all of the time.”
  • “I wish that I was dead.”
  • “Everyone would be better off without me.”

If you’ve heard some of these phrases, then chances are, your loved one is depressed.

What Causes Depression?

Depression can have both biological and environmental components.  For example, if you have parents who struggle with depression, you are more likely to also have depression.  Is the increased likelihood of depression from the genetics of your parents or is it from growing up in a depressing environment?  Our understanding at this point is that it is probably some of both.

Impacts of Biology on Depression

Some of the most common biological components of depression include the following:

  • Genetics – You are between 2 and 4 times more likely to have depression if your parents have depression.
  • Chemical Imbalances in the Brain – Research shows that neurotransmitters in the brain play a significant role in depression.
  • Significant Physical Health Issues – Physical health issues can contribute to depression.  For example, thyroid issues are sometimes a significant contributor to the presence of depression.
  • Impacts of Environment on Depression

Some of the most common environmental contributors to depression include the following:

  • Significant Life Stressors – Living in a constant state of stress can wear you down and lead to depression.
  • Unresolved Anger – Anger that is bottled up can lead to feelings of depression over time.  In fact, anger that is turned inward causes some depression.
  • Unresolved Trauma – Unresolved trauma can have significant impacts on a person’s well-being.
  • Unresolved Emotional Pain – Unresolved emotional pain from previous losses, relationships, or experiences is the root cause of some depression.
  • Substance Abuse – One of the side effects of addiction is often symptoms of depression and anxiety.  To learn more about alcoholism and addiction, follow this link:  Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Programs – New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers (

To learn more about the causes of depression, follow this link:  What Causes Depression? – New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers (

Does Depression Look Different in Teenagers?

Teenagers have many of the same symptoms of depression that are listed above.  However, in general, teenagers are more likely to act out their feelings of depression and anxiety.  For example, they might become more argumentative with the family or might start failing in school.  They are also more likely to engage in self-harm, such as cutting on themselves.  Because teens are also impulsive, they are often at higher risk for acting on suicidal thoughts.  If you have a teen who is showing signs of depression and expressing thoughts of self-harm, get them help.  Don’t wait and hope that they grow out of it.

Talk openly with your teen about your concerns and let them know that you care.   Listen to their feelings and work to understand the stressors that are contributing to their depression.

Depression and Anxiety Often Occur Together

Many people who are depressed also struggle with anxiety.  Anxiety is a feeling of fear that something bad is going to happen.  Worries about the future usually accompany this fear.  The more someone worries the more fear they tend to feel and the more fear they feel the more they tend to worry.  This creates a perpetual loop of fear and worry which frequently becomes overwhelming and exhausting.

People who struggle with both anxiety and depression often vacillate between feelings of hopelessness and dread.  They ruminate about the past and panic about the future.  The anxiety makes the depression worse, and the depression intensifies the anxiety.  It is often this combination that makes someone feel like they are going to have a mental breakdown.  You can learn more about mental breakdowns (also called nervous breakdowns or emotional breakdowns) here: How to Get Help for a Mental Breakdown – New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers (

Types of Depression

It is helpful to understand that not all depression is alike.  For example, someone with a Major Depression Disorder experiences a consistently depressed mood nearly every day for at least 2 weeks while someone with Bipolar Depression may cycle through periods of depression and mania.  A therapist or psychiatrist can help identify the type of depression that your loved one is experiencing.  This can help you target the type of treatment that is most likely to benefit your loved one.

“When Should I Start to Worry?”

Many people wonder when they should start to worry about their loved one’s safety.  When someone is depressed, they tend to withdraw from everyone around them and become less interested in participating in life.  Initially, it is easy to attribute this to your loved one “not feeling good.”  However, when it continues, it is normal to become more concerned about their emotional well-being.  This is the time to encourage them to seek professional help.  They may initially resist, but it is useful to remind them that depression is a treatable illness and that you simply don’t want them to continue to suffer.

Watch for Signs of Suicidal Risks

If your loved one begins to express thoughts of dying, it is a sign that their depression has intensified.  Suicidal thoughts are not normal.  However, suicidal thoughts are a normal symptom of depression.  The greater the depression, the more frequent are thoughts of suicide.  Watch for signs that your loved one is planning to act on those thoughts.  If they begin to say “goodbye” to people around them or start giving items away, they might be preparing to act on the suicidal thoughts.  If you see these kinds of signs, get them help immediately.  To learn more about the warning signs of suicide, follow this link.  Warning Signs of Suicide – New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers (

What are the Treatment Options for Depression?
  • Psychotherapy – Working with a therapist helps many people alleviate their depression.  A therapist can help your loved one identify the underlying causes of their depression, work through any unresolved emotional pain or traumas, and develop effective coping skills.  One of the most common methods of treating depression is cognitive behavioral therapy.  For more information about the types of therapy used to treat depression, follow this link.  Depression Treatment – New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers (
  • Medication Management – Antidepressants are very effective in treating depression in some cases.  Each antidepressant tends to work in slightly different ways.  Many people get antidepressants from their family physician or from a psychiatrist.  The different types of antidepressants include:
    • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – include medications such as Prozac or Zoloft.
    • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) – this includes medications such as Effexor or Cymbalta.
    • Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors (NDRIs) – this includes medications such as Ritalin.
    • Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) – this includes medications such as Pamelor.
    • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) – this includes medications such as Nardil.
  • Combination of Therapy and Medication – For many people, the combination of medication and therapy is the most effective strategy to overcome depression.  The medication helps alleviate the symptoms and elevates the mood, while the therapy helps your loved one develop the coping skills that they need.
  • Ketamine – A fairly new treatment for depression is Ketamine.  Ketamine is administered intravenously or through a nasal spray called Spravato.  Ketamine has shown some promise in being able to alleviate suicidal symptoms.
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) – TMS is a newer treatment option that involves stimulating the neurons in the brain.  TMS has shown promise in being able to help with treatment-resistant depression.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) – ECT is a useful treatment option for individuals with treatment-resistant depression.  ECT is done under general anesthesia and involves electrically stimulating the brain.
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) – VNS is also used to treat depression that is treatment resistant.  VNS requires a device be implanted in the body which then stimulates the nerves that go to the brain.
Where Do I Find a Therapist?

The type of treatment depends on the level of depression that your loved one is experiencing.  Working with an individual therapist can help many people treat their depression.  Most people see their therapist weekly which allows them to receive the support that they need and develop the tools they need to overcome their depression.  As mentioned early, this is done in conjunction with taking antidepressants to help address any chemical imbalances occurring within the brain.

It is helpful to talk with family and friends for recommendations about therapists that they are familiar with.  If you live in The Woodlands, Katy, Clear Lake area of Houston, or surrounding areas, New Dimensions compiles a list of therapists that work with mental health and/or substance abuse issues.  You can access this information here: Resource Books – New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers (  You can also talk with one of the MHThrive therapists either in person or online through our affiliate,

For more information about how to find a therapist, follow this link. How to Find a Therapist or Psychiatrist – (

When Should My Loved One Go to a Psychiatric Hospital?

If your loved one is actively suicidal or homicidal, then inpatient psychiatric hospitalization is most likely the right choice.  Inpatient hospitals are designed to provide a safe environment so that your loved one is not able to act on their thoughts of dying.  Inpatient treatment is primarily for crisis intervention and stabilization, so your loved one typically only be hospitalized for a few days.  Once they are no longer actively suicidal, they are discharged to outpatient treatment.  This might include individual therapy or an Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program.  Should I Check Myself into a Mental Hospital? – New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers (

New Dimensions Offers an Alternative to Inpatient Psychiatric Hospitalization

When inpatient treatment is not required and once-a-week therapy is not enough, Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs (IOP) or Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) can help.  IOPs and PHPs allow your loved one to receive intensive treatment while remaining at home.

New Dimensions provides Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Treatment for adolescents and adults who are struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.  Our programs are designed to provide your loved one with the tools they need to overcome their mental health challenges.  We can help your loved one get back to living the life that they want.

New Dimensions has programs in Katy, The Woodlands, and Houston, Texas, and offers online treatment programs for individuals who reside within the State of Texas, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Lubbock, El Paso, San Antonio, League City, Conroe, Irving, Galveston, Austin, College Station, Corpus Christi, Odessa, Midland, McAllen, Laredo, and Beaumont. 

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit to learn more.