Depression is a disease that impacts the receptors and hormones in the brain. There is a lot we don’t understand about this brain disease which adds to its aura of mystery. But there are treatments that work.
Depression is different from the sadness or normal ups and downs of life we all experience from time to time. Depression interferes with daily life, injecting feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness into our thinking. And what’s worse, these feelings are intense and unrelenting.
Be concerned if your loved one. . .
Doesn't seem to care about anything anymore.
Is uncharacteristically sad, irritable, short-tempered, critical, or moody.
Has lost interest in work, sex, hobbies, and other pleasurable activities.
Talks about feeling helpless or hopeless.
Complains of feeling tired and drained all the time.
Has withdrawn from friends, family, and other social activities.
Sleeps less than usual or oversleeps.
Has become indecisive, forgetful, disorganized, and "out of it."
Has trouble concentrating.
Has suicidal thoughts.
Lifestyle changes can make a big impact toward alievating this pervasive sense of sadness. Here are a few:
Cultivating supportive relationships
Getting regular exercise and sleep
If none of these has worked, then it’s time to seek professional help. There are many effective treatments for depression that include talk therapy and medications. Mental health professionals are available locally to help. Check out www.wecarepeople.org for more information.
It is important to be supportive of a friend or loved one who is experiencing depression. We all feel a bit awkward talking to a friend or a loved one about any illness let alone a mental illness.
Being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You don't have to try to fix the person. Just be a good listener. It may take more than one conversation because a person experiencing depression tends to withdraw from others and become isolated.
Here's a few conversation starters:
I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you were doing.
I wanted to check in with you because you seemed pretty down lately.
Then remember to be supportive:
I am here for you.
I care about you and want to help you.
Your life is important to me.
Tell me how I can help you.
You may not believe it now but the way you’re feeling will change.
The most important thing is to stay in touch. Invite them for a walk or an outing, call them, stop over for a visit. Your continued presence and ongoing connection will make a difference.
What NOT to say –
Encourage your friend or family member experiencing depression to seek help. Suggest a general check up with a physician. Offer to help find a doctor or a therapist and then go with them on the first visit. Encourage the person to make a list of symptoms and ailments to discus with the doctor.
There is a lot of information at www.helpguide.org.
Help is just a phone call - 1 800 567 4673 or
a text - #741741 away.