How To Support Someone With Depression

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States between the ages of 15 and 44. Yet, there is still stigma around the condition. Many believe that you can “just snap out of it” or that depression is simply a bad day or two. In addition, using the word casually can minimize the severity of the condition and can cause people to silently endure their pain.

How can we support people navigating the dark days of depression? What do we do to reduce stigma around the condition? And what do we do when we’re experiencing depressive symptoms?

Audience Questions

Christopher M. Palmer, MD, explains ways to identify the mood disorder in ourselves and others, shares tips to support people we care for who are experiencing depression, and answers audience questions about depressive disorders and the stigma surrounding them.

  • What are some of the most common symptoms of depression?
  • If you think you might be struggling with depression but have not been professionally diagnosed, are there any behaviors that one should be particularly concerned with that may be a real red flag?
  • What can folks do to have easy access to mental health professionals?
  • Is there such a thing as situational depression? How does it differ from clinical depression?
  • If someone’s experience with depression is difficult for us to listen to, but we want to be supportive of loved ones, how can we become better listeners with more neutral affects?
  • As a caretaker of someone with depression, how do we stop feeling guilty about taking care of our own health and well-being?
  • What are your thoughts on having all family members going to the same mental health practice and either seeing the same provider or different providers?
  • If a family member is struggling with major depression, refuses to try medication, and is struggling to find a therapist, how do we best support them?
  • What are some tips for a parent that wants to explain an extended family member’s major depression to young children?
  • How can a young adult that is over 18, with clinical depression, who cuts/self-harms, be helped or treated when they are resistant to getting help?
  • What are realistic expectations for caregivers about depressed family members getting well? Will they ever be “totally better,” or should you just expect some degree of improvement?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


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About Dr. Palmer

For over 20 years, Christopher M. Palmer, MD, has focused his clinical work on treatment-resistant cases, and recently he has been pioneering the use of the ketogenic diet in psychiatry, especially treatment-resistant cases of mood and psychotic disorders. He is currently the director of the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean Hospital and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Learn more about Dr. Palmer.

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Originally aired October 6, 2021