How to Stage an Intervention for Someone Struggling With Depression

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When people think of an intervention, they typically imagine a group of people confronting a drug addict or an alcoholic. However, there are other mental health conditions besides addiction that sometimes require friends and family to intervene. Depression is a subtle, yet painful mental health condition that manifests in many different ways. As a result, it is important to know how and when to stage an intervention for someone who is struggling with depression.

Depression interventions are similar to mental health interventions as they come with the ultimate goal of convincing a loved one to go to treatment or counseling. After all, seeking treatment for depression is vital, as symptoms are unlikely to improve on their own. Sadly, far too many people wait too long to seek help.

Knowing When to Stage a Depression Intervention

Depression is, by far, the most common mood disorder in the United States, and experts estimate that up to 60% of people who die by suicide also suffer from major depression.[1] The best way to prevent suicide, or any other long-term consequence that comes from depression, is to get help as soon as possible. As a result, it is vital to know how to spot the warning signs of depression in a loved one.

Symptoms of Major Depression

symptoms of major depression

Depression is different in everybody. Some people may experience irritability or aggression while others experience anxiety, lethargy, and restlessness. On the other hand, people may become withdrawn from friends and family or seem uninterested in activities they once enjoyed. Common signs of depression include:[2]

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, helplessness, and worthlessness
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in things that were once found enjoyable
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Unexplainable cramps, aches, and pains
  • Unexplained digestive problems
  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

If you or a loved one are showing signs of depression, you may not know what to do. In general, experts typically recommend speaking with a mental health professional or doctor if symptoms last longer than a few weeks. After all, it is normal to feel sad or depressed after a tragic or stressful life event. However, if these feelings persist, it could be a sign of an underlying condition that requires professional counseling.

Is it Time for a Depression Intervention?

While short-term depression is normal and most people know that those feelings will pass, there are some circumstances where it is not safe to let an individual wait a few weeks to see if his or her symptoms improve. Sometimes, people become so overwhelmed and obsessed with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or death that they begin seriously contemplating suicide. Regardless of the circumstances, if your loved one ever speaks about suicide or threatens to harm themselves, the threat should be taken seriously.

Even if your loved one doesn’t seem like he or she is an imminent danger to themselves, it is still vital to start a conversation with them and encourage them to seek help. Ultimately, if you are in a position to help someone struggling with depression, it is critical that you take action. You never know if it could save your friend’s life.

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If you think someone may be considering suicide, you can also get help from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Staging an Intervention for a Loved One With Depression: Step by Step

People who are struggling with depression may not recognize the changes that have occurred in themselves unlike their friends and family have. As a result, it is often up to friends and family members to approach the topic of getting help. If you have already confronted your loved one and they refuse to get help, you might start considering a depression intervention.

Hire an Intervention Specialist or Mental Health Professional

Mental health professionals who have training in interventions can help with mental health, conflict resolution, substance abuse, and more. By hiring an intervention professional, you can rest assured that you are providing your loved one with the best possible help. It isn’t always easy confronting a struggling loved one, but intervention specialists will help guide you through the process to make sure that the intervention is as successful as possible. You can find an intervention specialist by contacting a local mental health treatment facility, healthcare provider, or by contacting one of our dedicated treatment providers at New Jersey Interventions.

Planning a Depression Intervention

Once you have hired a professional, it is time to start planning and preparing for the intervention. Some things you will do during this phase include:

  • Forming a group of friends and family to be present at the intervention
  • Writing down what you would like to say to your loved one
  • Rehearsing the intervention
  • Coming up with a list of local resources, therapists, or treatment centers to send your loved one to
  • Preparing for possible outcomes
  • Getting a brief education about mental health, depression, and treatment for depression
  • Learning how to support a loved one struggling with depression

In general, interventions for depression should be limited to small groups of close friends and family members. Having too large of a group may be intimidating to the person suffering. Rather than a dramatic intervention, depression interventions are more tender and compassionate. In order to maintain compassion and composure throughout the confrontation, planning and preparation are essential.

Once your preparation is complete, you will pick a time and place to conduct your intervention and try to help convince your loved one to get the help they deserve.

Holding an Intervention for Someone With Depression

No matter how long you prepare or how prepared you feel, staging a depression intervention is an intimidating task. After all, it is impossible to know exactly what to expect. During the conversation, it is imperative that you and the other members remain calm and supportive of your loved one.

During the intervention, you and the other group members will take turns expressing concern for their loved one and offering help. Once everyone has had time to speak, the intervention or mental health specialist will present your loved one with their treatment options. Ultimately, the end goal is that your loved one will agree to accept your help and follow through with a mental health treatment program.

Get In Touch With an Intervention Specialist Today

Although recovery from depression may be a long and exhausting road, the end results will be well worth it. People who accept help or depression after their family has staged an intervention have access to some of the most experienced therapists, medication management strategies, and wellness resources that will allow them to live the healthiest and happiest life possible.

If you or somebody you know is in crisis and battling with depression, you may consider staging an intervention. Depression is a serious and life-threatening condition that requires extensive individualized care. Don’t wait any longer. Pick up the phone and contact one of our qualified mental health and addiction intervention specialists in the tri-state area.



Medically Reviewed: August 28, 2020

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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