Supporting Someone with Depression
Mayo Clinic indicates that having a friend or family member that has depression can be overwhelming. At times it may cause feelings of helplessness or hopelessness and even frustration for the friend or family member. The best way to help someone with depression is to understand the disorder and to know some resources.
Signs and symptoms of depression
Depression signs and symptoms are different for each person, but symptoms generally include:
Those with depression may not think about getting help because they believe the feelings will pass, don’t believe they have depression, or may have feelings of guilt or shame about how they feel. They may believe it is a sign of weakness for having depression or that they should be able to manage the feelings on their own. Unfortunately, depression rarely gets better without professional assistance. With the proper professional help, a person with depression may be able to decrease their symptoms and increase their level of functioning back to where it was before the symptoms occurred. If your friend or loved one has depressive symptoms, there are things you can do to help.
1. Express your concerns: Tell your friend or loved one about the signs and symptoms you are seeing. Express your concerns. Offer to explain the signs and symptoms of depression.
2. Explain that depression is a medical condition: Understanding that depression is a common medical condition, may help the person to understand that it is not a character flaw or a sign of weakness.
3. Suggest a professional: A psychiatrist or a licensed counselor or psychologists are good suggestions. Most mental health professionals believe that a combination of mental health counseling and medication are the best treatment plan. A psychiatrist can assess and prescribe medication if it is believed to be appropriate. There are several antidepressant medications available. The psychiatrist can explain the differences, the effectiveness, and the side effects. A psychologist or licensed therapist can provide therapy. Usually CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are used with persons with depression.
4. Help prepare a list of question they can discuss with a professional: This list of questions can help your friend or family member to better understand the diagnosis and possible treatment option.
5. Explain that you want to help: Suggest driving them to the appointment or accompany them into the appointment. If your friend or loved one is suicidal, it is best to seek emergency services in your area. There are also hotline numbers that can help.
The Warning Signs of Worsening Depression
Depression can worsen without proper professional care. The following are signs to watch for to determine if depression I worsening:
If you notice that the depression symptoms are worsening, seek treatment as soon as possible. Your friend or family member needs to work with their psychiatrist or therapist to develop a crisis plan. This plan may include:
- Kim B.
I suffer from depression myself, and I suppose that you could say that I have my ups and downs. I have gone many months and even longer in without presenting any symptoms of the disorder, but when I do begin a bout of depression, I often feel that no one understands just what I’m going through. Let me explain. I will try to make them understand what I am experiencing, but it is difficult when the person you want to hear and understand you the most does not, cannot, or will not. Usually their denial or lack of understanding is unintentional. The lack of support comes from their inability to comprehend the disorder. They may have never experienced the suffering personally and therefore cannot have empathy for someone in anguish from it.
I want others to know that they aren’t alone, and I want you to know that you are not alone. I always feel better and more confident when I know that others support me, and I feel safer in a group than alone. I only wish I felt that way all of the time.
I believe that for me the most harmful symptom of my depression is the loneliness. It doesn’t matter if I am in a room by myself or in a room full of people, I can feel like the loneliest person in the world. I can be in a stadium full of people, screaming and shouting supporting their favorite team, and still feel completely alone.
I imagine, in fact I know, that I am not alone in this. I have met others who share the same dread as me. The struggle of loneliness that strangles us is real. I want to be better. I want to be well, but how? How do we change that? How do we transform our outlook on life so that we do not feel completely alone even when we aren’t?
I believe it starts with the realization that we are in-fact not alone. Simple right? No, but here goes. We, depression sufferers, are not freaks of nature. We are not disabled and unable to function without help or outlets to solve our problems, and there are certainly people who have suffered to that grave extent, but the depression that so disables us must be rechanneled.
Easy for me to say, I know. We must face our fears with someone we are not afraid of being with - Someone we are not afraid to let into our circle of trust (‘I’m watching you Focker!’). Someone who accepts us when it seems no one else will. Someone who even on our worst day, smiles at us and says, ‘I am proud of you. I love you. I want the best for you.’
That person is someone different for all of us. (Which is a very good thing because that would be an exhausted person!) For me it is my wife, and to her I shall always cling.
Depression (major depressive disorder). (n.d.). Retrieved December 20, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20045943