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When you hear the term Caregiver you instantly think of people who are looking after people who are terminally ill. In todays world a caregiver is something more: especially in relation to all aspects of health including supporting those with depression.  At times a Caregiver can seem unsupportive, it isn’t because they don’t care it because they have no guidence in how they can help with depression.

It is easy to forget how a Caregiver is effected by depression and I think it is important to remember that its not soley the depressed person who is effected.  Although I will never breach confidentiality and discusss my client or their sessions with a caregiver or relative,  they often will ask how they can help their loved one and I also believe it is important for them to recognise their need for support.

What no one will ever tell you is how living with someone with depression effects the surrounding people weather it be a partner, sibling, friend, parent or child. Watching someone who is depressed and not knowing how to help them and living with constant negativity can effect relationships.  Alhough difficult the caregiver has a vital role to play in the recovary of their love one; by being there they are showing support and can have a greater understanding of what is happening and how their love one is, which can help with the recovary process.

Whoever the caregiver is, they will often take on everything in order to help, all the worries and concerns, the day to day running of life, forgetting their own personal needs and wants.

How often have you heard ” I don’t get depression”?  

Acceptence is part of the road for recovery!

Unless you have been directly effected by depression you have no idea how mentally, emotionally and physically draining; if you could snap out of it you would, accepting depression is part of the battle.

Things that may become apparent when a love one is suffering with Depression:

  • Overwhelming sense of tiredness
  • Difficulty in getting going
  • Slip in personal hygiene and/or appearance
  • Unable to meet deadlines
  • Loss of ‘je le vie’
  • Withdrawing from friends and social events, becoming distant and wanting to be left alone
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Inability to relax
  • Only seeing the negative
  • Overindulgence
  • Talks about ”no longer being here”

The Don’ts


  • ”snap out of it”
  • ”its all in your head”
  • ” Man up”
  • ” your attention seeking”

If it was that simple snapping out of it would be easy! Depression is an illness that has no boundaries sex, race or religion it doesnt discriminate.


  • Advice
  • Try to Jolly them along or push them into doing something
  • Point out the social injustices of the world and how others are far worse off
  • don’t make excuses for them

Advice can be helpful, but advice doesn’t actually change the fact that someone is depressed;  it often just highlights the things they are doing wrong and from your point of view.  Yes there is always somebody worse off BUT that just makes a depressed person feel even more hopeless and guilty.

Although its important for a depressed person to participate in things, if they are depressed and don’t want to do something its important to remember this could exacebate feelings, making them feel worse.   Its also important to remember not to make excuses for them, as this can creates a cycle of denial.   Acceptance is part of recovary process.

The Dos

  • Leave relevant information lying around for them to pick up and read in their time.
  • If you are going to bring up their depression- remember it is about them and not you, listen and show that you are their for them.
  • Encourage them to see a professional-it is not uncommon for people to give reccommendations however what works for one doesn’t for another its important to find the right therapist for them.
  • Take up some of the day to day tasks whilst still encouraging them to keep a routine by simplifying tasks at work and home.
  • Encourage physical activity.
  • Journalling, can highlight patterns and triggers.


  • Acceptance- helps the recovary process
  • Learn about depression, personal triggers and what action can be taken
  • Don’t hide it from other family members including childern.  Talk to them about depression!  Childern are far more perceptive than we give them credit for, they will know something is wrong and can easily blame themselves.
  • Joint professional help can bring an understanding of depression.

The Caregiver

  • Professional Help can provide a caregiver with support of their own, living with depression from a caregivers perspective can be frustrating, and it can be very difficult not to express feelings towards a depressed love one without the feeling that you could be making things worse.  It can also help with the constant negativity that is expressed towards them.  Negativity breeds negativity and if you are living in a negative enviroment it is important to be able to process and counselling, even just for support can help.
  • Accept that you cannot help anyone without looking after yourself first, setting boundaries is essential for your own mental wellbeing.
  • Gratitudes is one of my favourite tools to use with clients- think of 10 things that you love about the depressed person.
  • Take time out so that you can cope when the difficult things crop up.   If your constantly caring and feeling unsupported yourself, how can you deal with the difficult things come up?  Taking time out and doing the things that are important to you, meeting friends,  yoga, meditation or anything that allows you to relax and enjoy life.