People who are severely depressed will rarely be able to help themselves so recommending some self help advice is practically useless. Similarly, telling them to snap out of it is equally unhelpful and ineffective. The only thing that will do will give the impression that you are not even vaguely aware of what is going on. We are after all dealing with a severe mental illness here. It would be great if things were that simple! The first scenario is that we recognize this fully and frankly and that we are prepared to help in a practical way.
The second scenario is where we can find out all about the symptoms and try to understand what a severely depressed person is actually going through.
We will learn that the feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness are so strong that they shut out the light and that is why we describe the severely depressed as being in a dark tunnel. The normal feelings of well being and self confidence do not exist and negative thoughts plus thoughts of suicide seem to predominate.
A person with severe depression will not be able to recognize the problem and will certainly not be able to get help or even if they should get advice. Usually, medication with prescription drugs for anti depressants can help a person to start to get out of the tunnel. But these are a very temporary measure and yet I know scores of people who have been on these for years and they are prescribed one drug after another. Some of them have tried counselling and therapy without any success.
The third scenario is helping the person to acknowledge that there is a problem and also staying close to them and advising them on what sort of help is available. Looking at CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) is a possibility. To put it simply, the severely depressed person is helped through a series of exercises on how to retrain his or her thoughts. That means being able to control the mood they are in, rather than the mood, emotions and feelings that are controlling them. Once they can learn to stop the negative downward thoughts spiral, then there is hope that this sort of therapy will be really useful.
These are three possible scenarios. There is also the scenario where anti depressants may be prescribed by the doctor or psychiatrist. Being aware of the side effects and the benefits is important.
Dealing with anxiety and depression can be very difficult. There are various options available and you may want to study these before offering to help your severely depressed partner or friend. I have set out the various options on my website. Why not check it out,