How to Help Someone With Depression
Written By:Urvashi Sethi
Everybody faces various types of ups and down in life. Many people say they’re depressed when they’re sad or having a bad day or even a few days. Clinical depression is way beyond that. If a person is continuously sad and despondent for more than two weeks, he/she is considered clinically depressed. It disrupts our day-to-day lives, eating habits, sleeping habits and our lifestyles.
Clinical depression is considered a mental disorder, which occurs when a person feels completely shattered, bleak and bewildered by his/her life. People who are clinically depressed withdraw from life. Outside signs included rapid weight change, insomnia or too much sleep and inattention to work and family.
What triggers the depression varies from individual to individual. According to the research, depression is physically based, with perhaps a genetic factor, and characterized as abnormalities in neurotransmitter functioning. (Serotonin and norepinephrine are not processed properly.) However, other factors include environmental and social vulnerabilities.
Depression, if left untreated, can lead to suicide. Quite often the person who is suffering from this disorder is not aware he’s ill. Depression affects teenagers at a ratio of 1:8. It has also seems to happen to females more than males. Age is not a factor.
If you know someone you believe is depressed, these are things you can do to help.
- Educate yourself - Understand the symptoms, causes and the various kinds of treatments that are available. There is a lot of information about depression in books and magazines as well as on the Internet.
- Share this knowledge with the depressed person - Ask him/her to read your material if they can. If there are lectures or seminars, attend them together. You will have to pick up and drive the depressed person. Remember, he/she can’t function.
- Persuade the depressed person to acknowledge his/her condition - This may take an intervention or confrontation of some sort. Also, there are self-tests online.
- Find or create a support group - Go with him/her to a therapy center; they won’t go alone If they need a doctor’s recommendation to join the group, make the appointment and go with them. People usually get very nervous the first time they visit a psychiatrist or psychologist. A regular doctor or a psychiatrist can prescribe antidepressant medications, which are very helpful. However, they take at least two weeks to have an effect, which means you or another loved one have to make sure they takes the pills.
- Encourage him/her to work out or perform mental exercises - By doing so, the depressed person will stay busy as well as tired and maybe get some good sleep.
- Call or visit the person frequently - Getting them out of their head is always a plus, but don’t pressure them. Just be his/her friend.
- Always show a positive attitude - One of the best ways to persuade somebody to become healthy is to maintain your own health. Try and become a good role model for the depressed person by just having a positive attitude toward things and also live a balanced life.
- Talk frankly and openly with the person - Don’t sweep the depression under the carpet. This will help them to cope more easily and talking about the depression can help.
- Encourage others to participate in the healing - The more people who are involved in the process the better.
There are a few things not to do for the depressed person.
- Don't try to analyse the depressive disorder yourself - Try not to assume that the person is experiencing depression even if you know the symptoms of depression. This problem can be caused by other conditions such as thyroid disorders, gastrointestinal problems, abnormalities in liver, food allergies and sensitivities, medication side effects, and alcohol are just a few of the conditions the doctor has to rule out. The symptoms may come from one of these medical disorders other than depression.
- Don't ignore any symptoms - Paying attention to his/her symptoms may help them to cope with the problem.
- Don't pressure the depressed person to do what you think they should do - You may think they should visit a doctor, take medications, get regular counseling from the psychiatrist and increase their physical activities. You may be right, but if you’re insistent, your advice will backfire. The depressed person may reject your advice. He or she may refuse to accept the help you’re offering and become more secluded. Or, it may seem they are following your suggestions but only superficially. From outside the person is going through a lot of motions but not changing on the inside. On the inside, they could still be depressed.
- Don't criticize - One of the major symptoms of depression is a hypercritical attitude toward life and self. If you criticize the person, you reinforce this self-critical attitude, further damage self esteem and make things worse in general.
- Don't expect the depressed person to conquer the depression alone - Since depression is because of chemical changes in the brain, a person cannot change his or her brain’s chemistry back to normal. It takes medication, even talk therapy, but mostly a lot of time.
- Don't get discouraged - A person who is helping a depressed person requires a lot of patience and even has to make sacrifices in order to cope with the depressed person. Depression is one of those diseases that’s treated easily and adequately, but requires a lot of time. Just remember with proper treatment a depressed person gets better and can live a happy, normal life.
- Don’t pressure her to go out - You’ll get resistance. Gently lead the way because getting out helps.
Standing by your loved one during this critical period is an extremely demanding task. You may find you’re both talking about the same thoughts endlessly in an effort to purge them from their system. You may see no forward movement, but it’s important to show them constantly that you’re always there for him/her and you’re taking care of them. In such a situation you have to be energetic, both physically and mentally. Patience must become your strong suit. The reward is your loved one emerges from a dark and terrible place.