It can be a tricky to approach a mate you suspect is heading for depression, but it is important to speak up. Here’s how to offer useful support

Let your friend know it’s ok to feel overwhelmed

That he’s not alone – the World Health Organisation estimates 10% of the world’s population suffers; and that there is help available. If a bad day stretches into depression, it is totally treatable. “Constant, non-judgemental support works best – people need to know that they won’t be ridiculed if they admit how they are feeling,” says Hawkey.

Encourage him to get professional help

You wouldn’t ignore a compound fracture of your femur, so don’t do it for depression. Says Hawkey: cognitive behavioural therapy with a psychologist is not years spent on a couch talking about when your mother stopped breastfeeding you, it gives you practical tools to deal with your particular issues.

Do not take him for a drink

Alcohol (a central nervous system depressant) might be freely available and socially acceptable, but it can exacerbate symptoms of depression.

Look out for the signs.

The line between temporary sadness and depression isn’t always clear, but a blue mood for most days for a period of two weeks could signal depression, says psychiatrist Dr Ian Westmore.