I'm worried someone is depressed

Depression can develop slowly. Someone who is depressed doesn't always realise or acknowledge that they're not behaving as they usually do.

Often it's a a partner, family member or carer who first realises help is needed and encourages their relative or friend to see a doctor or find another source of support.

Feeling sad from time to time is normal. But if this lasts more than a couple of weeks or starts to affect everyday life, help is usually needed.

What are the signs that someone may be depressed?

There are many symptoms of depression. These include low mood, feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, lack of energy and problems with sleep. The more symptoms someone has, the more likely they are to be depressed. Find out more about symptoms of depression.

The charity Age UK says that signs of depression in older people can include empty fridges and cupboards (which suggest a poor diet), a neglected appearance or poor hygiene, or someone showing little joy in receiving visitors.

Tips to help someone who seems down

Depression Alliance, a charity that provides support for people affected by depression, gives the following advice to friends, family and carers:

  • Encourage the person you're worried about to see their doctor.
  • Encourage them to talk, and listen to what they say.
  • Let them know you care about them.
  • Remind them they can't help being affected by depression.
  • Encourage them to help themselves, for example by doing regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and taking part in activities they enjoy.
  • Get information about the services available to them, such as psychological therapy services and support groups in their area.
  • Stay in contact with them by sending a card, phoning or visiting them. People who are depressed can become isolated because they often find it difficult to leave their home.

If the person you're worried about expresses suicidal feelings, contact a GP or NHS 111. You can also contact Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for confidential support.