5 Ways to Help Someone With Depression

4. Try not to take rejection personally.

It can be tough to shake the thought that you’re doing something wrong when your loved one is withdrawn or wants to be alone a lot. But they’re not pushing you away on purpose—so don’t turn it into that. “It’s not about you, and they’re not doing it to harm you in any way. He or she honestly needs some time alone,” says Staten.

What’s more, suggesting that their need for space is somehow bringing you down will probably just make them feel worse. Instead of fixating on what you might be doing wrong or how you’re hurting, take a step back. “Look at the whole equation and focus on the other factors in your loved one’s life that may be contributing to their depression,” Santan says.

5. Know when to bring in a professional.

You can’t force someone with depression to go to a therapist, and trying to will usually just push them away. But you should seek help if you sense that your loved one’s depression is getting worse.

Downhill signs might include a change in sleeping or eating habits, acting more isolated or withdrawn, poor self-care, not being able to take care of their usual responsibilities, or excessive crying, agitation, or irritability, Santan says. “If the depression worsens but there are no medical emergencies such as suicidal thoughts, talk with the person’s medical doctor,” he says.

Seek medical attention ASAP if your loved one is showing signs of thinking about suicide.

Of course, you should seek emergency medical attention ASAP if your loved one is showing any signs of thinking about suicide—like talking about wanting to die, looking for ways to commit suicide, talking about feeling hopeless or trapped, talking about being a burden to others, or behaving recklessly.

“Do whatever is necessary to keep them safe, regardless of whether or not you think they want that kind of help,” says Santan. Call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.