Healthy Living

Depression: Conversation Starters

Two people talking.

Depression can be hard to talk about. But if a friend or loved one is depressed, having a conversation about getting help can make a big difference. Use these tips to start talking.

Show you care.

You can say:

  • “How are you feeling? I’m here to listen to you and support you.”
  • “I’m concerned about you. I think you may need to talk to someone about depression. I want you to get the help you need to feel better.”
  • “I'd really like to spend more time with you. Let’s take a walk, grab something to eat, or go to a movie.”

Offer hope.

You can say:

  • “You're not alone. Many people suffer from depression
    — it's nothing to be ashamed of.”
  • “Depression is treatable. Getting help is the best thing you can do.”
  • “Many people get better with treatment — even people who have severe depression.”
  • “There are different ways to treat depression, including therapy and medicine.”

Offer to help.

You can say:

  • “Let me help you figure out what’s going on. You can start by making an appointment with your doctor — or I can help you find someone else to talk to, like a counselor, therapist, or social worker.”
  • “I can give you a ride to your therapy appointment or remind you to take your medicine.”
  • “You can call or text me at any time if you need support — or if you just want to talk.”
  • “Getting more physical activity can lower your stress level and help you feel better. Would you like to go for a walk together this weekend?”

Ask life-saving questions.

For example, you might ask: “Have you felt hopeless or thought about hurting yourself recently? I'm here for you. Let's call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988."

Content last updated April 6, 2023

Reviewer Information

This information on depression was adapted from materials from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Reviewed by:
Matthew V. Rudorfer, M.D.
Chief, Psychopharmacology, Somatic, and Integrated Treatment Research Program
Treatment and Preventive Interventions Research Branch
Division of Services and Intervention Research
National Institute of Mental Health

For more information on how to help someone with depression, check out: