​At a glance

The best way to communicate with someone who has depression is to be a good listener and to use language that is supportive.

Experiencing depression can result in:

  • a lack of energy and not being able to sleep
  • feelings of being overwhelmed
  • difficulty with concentrating or making decisions
  • negative thoughts and feelings of worthlessness
  • withdrawal from people and activities.

Do:

  • be patient and understanding
  • offer encouragement and acknowledge gains, no matter how small
  • ask if there is anything you can do to help, instead of asking what’s wrong
  • acknowledge that the mental health condition isn’t their fault
  • speak clearly and at a pace that they understand
  • treat the person with respect and dignity
  • continue to make positive suggestions.

Don’t:

  • blame the person for the depression they experience
  • think that they are not trying hard enough to get better
  • assume that because they are having difficulty concentrating, that they are unable think clearly
  • act like you think that trying anything is pointless.

Resources

What to say and why
This web page provides some useful tips to use in a conversation which can help someone to feel listened to, understood, and hopeful that things can improve.
Type: Web page
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Produced by: Beyond Blue

Having the conversation with young people about anxiety and depression
This fact sheet provides some tips on having a conversation with a young person about anxiety and depression.
Type: Fact sheet
Reading time: 4 pages
Produced by: Beyond Blue

Depression: first aid guidelines
These guidelines provide an overview of signs of depression to look out for, how to approach a conversation and be supportive and some tips about what doesn’t help.
Type: Guideline
Reading time: 3 pages
Produced by: Mental Health First Aid Australia

Things Not to Say To Someone With Depression
In this video people share their responses to the things people say to them.
Type: Video
Viewing time: 5.50 minutes
Closed captions: Yes
Produced by: BBC Three
Warning – some strong language

Current as at: Monday 20 January 2020
Contact page owner: Mental Health Branch