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When public relations professional David Cooper, 49, suffered a depressive episode, it was his father’s words that spurred him to get help. “I was exhausted, I really had no desire and I had ceased laughing. I searched through novels, distressed to discover advice that might help me better understand what I had been going through,” Cooper recalls. “Then my father said something which stuck with me — ‘You’re not going to think your way from this.’ He was appropriate. I needed professional help fight my depression.”

Cooper is among the more than 20 million Americans with depression. And for every individual that is depressed, there’s a host of friends and family members wondering what they could do to help.

Treatment for depression is crucial and there’s some optimistic news on such front: Research released in the Archives of General Psychiatry demonstrates that more people are receiving melancholy treatment than ever before — about 8.7 million compared with 6.5 million a decade earlier.

However, vast numbers still fight with depression by themselves. And often people who do seek treatment wait a long time. Mental Health America reports that, on average, people with depression wait nearly a decade

“It is very difficult on family and friends to watch someone they love deteriorating before their eyes,” says Robert Rowney, DO, a shrink at Cleveland Clinic’s Lutheran Hospital. So what can care loved ones like the father of Cooper do to support family members to get depression treatment? They could intervene, though probably not initially in the confrontational style that most people think of when they image interventions on TV, Dr. Rowney says.

How to Support a Loved One to Get Help

Individuals going through depression frequently do not recognize the changes in themselves due to decreased insight and inferior judgment caused by the depression in the first place. That means loved ones and friends must often broach the topic of having help. Rowney advocates beginning gently, having open talk about changes in attitudes or the man’s conduct, a calm, and potential depression treatment choices. It’s also crucial not to overwhelm them with too a lot of people. “The miserable person will probably react better, and less defensively, in the event the individuals who are trying to help form groups of one to two initially,” Rowney says.

Thomas Gazda, MD, a psychiatrist with Banner Behavioral Health in Scottsdale, Ariz., implies encouraging the individual with depression symptoms to see his or her family doctor as a starting point for depression treatment. “Often, people tend to be more comfortable going to their own family doctor than the usual specialist because family doctors are less stigmatizing,” he says. If needed, subsequently the family doctor can make a referral to another mental health practitioner or a psychiatrist.

“In serious instances of depression, particularly when suicide is a worry, an immediate involuntary hospitalization may be warranted,” Dr. Gazda says. “The best thing to do in these situations would be to get hold of a local community mental health service for help.”

Staging a Depression Intervention

If your initial encouragement does not spur your loved one into actions, a direct intervention-style tactic may be an alternative. In this type of intervention, a bigger number of family members and friends faces the depressed individual to convince him that professional, psychiatric help is needed.

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“Generally, these sorts of interventions are performed when an individual has a problem with drugs or booze, but in specific scenarios, one may be suitable for someone suffering from depression,” says psychiatrist Howard Belkin, MD, JD, an assistant professor at Oakland University-William Beaumont School of Medicine along with a psychiatrist in the Birmingham Counseling Center in Royal Oak, Mich.

Melancholy interventions have cons and pros. “The advantage is an intervention brings the depression out into the open and drives the patient to actively confront her illness in a fashion that presents the concern of loved ones,” Belkin says. “The disadvantage and danger of performing a melancholy intervention is the fact that if it’s not done correctly, the person with depression can really feel like she will be attacked and instantly become defensive.”

Rowney adds that in response to a larger, more confrontational group, a depressed person may not have the exact same eye-opening reaction an alcoholic or drug addict may have.

The best way to Arrange a Depression Intervention Team

If friends as well as relatives concur that a formal depression intervention will be worht striving, enlisting a professional may enhance the outcome. “Often, family members make use of the services of a professional interventionist,” Belkin says. “Although use of this type of professional is somewhat controversial, an interventionalist with wide-ranging experience might be able to lead the family through the measures required to help their loved one.”

Above all, a melancholy intervention demands careful preparation and organization. “Prior discussions among all participants, along with the patient’s family doctor or psychiatrist, are vital for the success of an intervention,” Belkin says.

Other Steps to Support Depression Treatment

If your loved one’s depression is serious enough to prompt family members to plan an intervention, it is probable that the illness is severe enough to need psychiatric hospitalization, Belkin says. “If this really is the case, immediate transportation to your local hospital, instead of taking the time for a melancholy intervention, is essential,” he says.

Beyond a depression intervention or hospitalization, keeping an open line of communication together with the blue individual — also as with other relatives, their partner and close friends — is vital. “Sometimes, just expressing concern to your loved one and suggesting the importance of treatment might help motivate the person who has depression to find help,” Belkin says. Such was the case with Cooper, who reacted promptly to his daddy’s guidance.

Loved ones also needs to offer continuous support to the person with melancholy and to each other. “I often recommend psychotherapy for family members of depressed people to make sure they stay healthy and may find good methods to deal with this specific traumatic situation,” says Rowney.