December 18, 2014

How to Help Someone with Depression

If someone close to you might be suffering from depression, learning how to recognize the signs is the first step toward being able to help them.  Depression can be debilitating and make it difficult to work or socialize like the patient has been accustomed to.

Helping someone with depression isn’t easy but supporting them while they are going through this can help them recover faster and help them return to their normal life much quicker than if they were having to go through this alone.

Recognizing the Signs

Depression is more than just someone feeling blue.  It is an illness just like any other.  It affects the way someone behaves, their emotions and even their physical health.  If someone has any of the following signs for more than a few weeks, there is a strong likelihood that they are depressed.

One of the most obvious signs of depression is someone’s negative outlook on life and constant gloominess.  They may also stop caring about how they look.  Someone who once took great pride in their appearance may stop putting on makeup or not bother to take care of their personal hygiene.

In addition, they may suffer from aches and pains that do not exist.  Depression has a way of increasing physical pain and sometimes will even cause it.  If a formerly healthy friend suddenly develops a number of mysterious pains, they may be depressed.

For families, dealing with depression can be stressful.  Individuals who are depressed often start to withdraw socially.  They may make excuses not to visit with family or friends or stay shut in the house all day and their relationships suffer.  These individuals may also stop doing activities and pastimes that they once enjoyed.

When undergoing an episode of depression, the individual’s total life is affected.  Spiritually, emotionally and physically, the individual will begin to break down and marked changes will occur in how they live their lives.

Broach the Subject Carefully

Family and friends should start by gently talking to the person and saying the various signs they have noticed.  They should also say why they are concerned and explain that depression is a medical condition.  Some individuals have the mentality that depression is a sign of their weakness, but this could not be further from the truth.  Depression is a medical condition.  As a medical condition, it can be treated and the person’s pain can be alleviated.

Once the individual has begun to open up, suggest that they see a doctor or psychologist that can treat them.   The doctor will most likely prescribe antidepressants, talk therapy or a combination of the two.  As a person who is close to the patient, you can offer to help set up the appointment and help them prepare questions to ask the doctor.

Provide Support

Once the patient has agreed to see a doctor, you can continue to provide them with ongoing support and help.  If the condition worsens, it will be easier for you to spot the signs and discuss the possibility of different medications.  You can even ensure that the patient is receiving regular meals and is getting the sleep they need.  You may not be able to cure depression, but you can support them as they work their way through it.

To be able to help the most, start reading about depression.   This site is a great source of information about depression, the types of depression, treatment options and much more but there are other good ones out there as well.  Additionally, many people have dealt with depression at some point in their lives and can provide valuable advice.  The more you understand about depression, the more you can help.

As you learn more about the disorder, start listening more to the patient.  Be careful not to criticize or judge anything they say.  Depressed individuals may have difficulty talking and expressing their emotion and criticism will only make it more difficult.

Always try to remain positive.  Depression can cause people to judge themselves too harshly or feel guilty, angry and/or worthless.  You can help them by always having a positive attitude about them and their life.  It is important for them to see a different, more positive perspective of their life because in a depressive state it is easy to focus more on the negative.

If they do ask for help, give it.  They may find it difficult to do household tasks or chores on their own and you can help.  No matter what, it is important to try and make their life as low-stress as possible.  Regular routines and organization can help to minimize the stress they feel on a daily basis.

Beware of Suicide Risks

When someone is depressed, they face an increased risk of attempting or committing suicide.  If someone you know is dealing with severe depression, learning about suicide risks can help you to prevent it.  Listen to them as they talk.  If the conversation involves a preoccupation with death or directly involves the topic of suicide, seek help.  A doctor or mental health provider is trained to help individuals who have suicidal thoughts.

If you believe suicide is a possibility, take action immediately.  If they live in your home, hide or remove anything that could aid them in attempting suicide.  Any weapons, fire arms or medications should be safely stored away somewhere where they will not be able to access it.

If you believe that they may try to commit suicide in the near future, call 911 or a suicide hot line number.  For people who live in the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255 at any time of day or night.  This toll-free number has a professionally trained counselor that can help them talk through their feelings.

Once you have called 911 or the suicide hotline number, make sure the person is not left alone.  The individual may potentially injure their body or attempt suicide.  You can prevent this by having someone with them at all times.  After the crisis is over, remember to still keep an eye on them.

Take Care of Yourself

It is all too easy to become wrapped up in helping someone else.  You should always endeavor to take care of yourself while you support your friend or loved one.  Get other friends and relatives to help out so that you can keep your life balanced.

As you attempt to help a friend or loved one manage their depression, always remember to be supportive.  As they traverse the road to recovery, they may encounter setbacks and difficulties along the way.  By being there to listen to them and support them, you can make the recovery process easier and faster.  Encourage them to continue with treatment and learn everything you can about depression.

 

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