The most disheartening thing about depression is that it's fairly common and yet many people either don't realize they are affected by it or simply close their eyes and ears from accepting it. Just like the patients, their family members and loved ones also bear the brunt of this mental disorder. Hence it's important all the people around the patient are aware of the dos and don'ts so as to support their precious friend or relative 100% and make their own job as a caregiver more productive.
Coach yourself- study depression, its symptoms and causes: This will help you track the progress and improvement of your friend/relative. Also whenever possible give your feedback to the patient's doctor to help them make a better judgment.
Network with people in similar situations: Communicate with other caregivers or support groups to comprehend things at a wider perspective; this will help you understand your loved one and their symptoms better.
Be patient: The line between over-reacting and firmly dealing with a disgruntled person is very thin, be careful not to step over. Give space to yourself and your ward. Do not hold your pent up emotions against the patient.
Don't suppress: patients affected by this ailment might often say things that sound irrational, do not get impatient or argumentative with them. Be calm and help them understand that it is all going to be fine.
Be at their side: Depressed people are bound to feel worthless and have low self esteem, they often think of themselves as an unnecessary burden. Communicate regularly with them and make them understand that they are as important as anyone else. Give them a shoulder to cry on and you unconditional support.
Protect yourself: Caring for a depressed person can be over-whelming, so you have to be extremely caring towards your self too. Feelings of depression can be contagious in a way, so detach your self from the whole situation once in a while to freshen up your body and mind.
Understand them: It is worthwhile to step into the shoes of the depressed person and understand how they must be feeling. This will help you deal with the frustrating situations more empathetically.
Depressed people often ignore your advice and may not even be able to concentrate on simple chores around the house, do not mistake this with laziness and encourage them.