The best description I ever heard about clinical depression was from a suffering friend who told me that he felt as if he was in a cave, chipping himself out with a teaspoon, little by little. You can never solve another person’s problems; however, what you can do, is be a support.

By active listening, offering time, unconditional love, and compassion, you signal to your friend or relative that you’re there for him, no matter what, and that he can count on you to be there for the duration. This kind of reliability offers security and stability to a chaotic situation.

If you have a clinically depressed loved one, here are some things you can do:

  1. Ask your friend or family member what he needs from you, what you can do to help. Sometimes, you may be required to organize appointments, transportation, or even assist in changing living quarters or arranging for a caretaker.
  2. Create boundaries that are necessary for you to comfortably stay engaged and stick to those boundaries, so that they become an accepted part of your relationship.
  3. Be what you want to see. Whenever possible, try to model a stable lifestyle, with a regular schedule for eating, sleeping and personal hygiene.
  4. Be a good listener. Many times just being there, listening actively, helps a depressed person feel valued, validated and reconnected to the world, through you.
  5. Let your loved one know that he is not going through this alone, that you’re there with him, that he is valuable to you, and that if he needs your help, you will be there, if possible.
  6. Remember, you can’t rescue someone, nor should you try to enable them. Don’t play the blame-game. Don’t be judgmental. Depression is an illness and not to be taken personally.

In the final analysis, each person must find his or her own inner resource to heal. If you’re a caretaker, it’s easy to get drawn in to another person’s life and lose your own, so stay vigilant, stay in touch with your friends, maintain your own routine, social engagements, and appointments to avoid burnout. Also, keep the lines of communication open and honest, so that you don’t build resentment from feelings that you suppress. And, if things get out of hand, always reach for professional help.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.