Q: What is the most effective way to approach a family member who seems to be suffering from depression?
A: While it may be a difficult subject to bring up with a family member, it's vitally important that you do so if you notice changes in behavior. Respectfully and calmly talk about what you're noticing, mention that you're concerned and let your family member know you want to help. Take a proactive role by offering specific types of help rather than saying, "Let me know if there's anything I can do." A person dealing with depression many not be able to make the first move of asking for help, companionship or anything else he or she may need.
For many, depression is entirely treatable. Help your loved one find qualified medical and psychological help so a diagnosis and treatment plan can be made. That may include antidepressant medications, psychotherapy and lifestyle changes or modifications. Also, structure and activity and connection to other people are important to help your family member feel purpose and meaning in life.
— Dr. Jon Cohen, Behavioral Health Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society