No one is “immune” to depression. If you have a family history of depression, then it could be the complete opposite, but that’s not what today’s blog is about. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, 7.1% of adults just in the United States may experience depression in a given year. Today, the blog will focus on an article by Zawn Villines from the Medical News Today website. We are going to look through some of the ways to help your loved ones through these tough times, and signs that they could be showing they are struggling with depression.
There is a lot of things that can cause depression such as a history of trauma, a lack of social support, recent loss, or exposure to racism or sexism. It’s easy for people to blow off someones feeling of depression as them being lazy. It can be a debilitating and isolating experience. Some people even show physical symptoms such as headaches and muscle pain and express their discomfort by anger towards others, which can interfere with work and relationships. Some of the other signs to look for would be:
- saying that they feel sad, hopeless, or unmotivated
- stopping activities that they used to enjoy
- unable to complete normal daily routines
- having a negative bias that affects their judgment
- having insomnia or excessive sleepiness
- feeling of excessive guilt or worthlessness
- having trouble concentrating or thinking
- complaining of aches and pains
- gaining or losing weight or a change in their eating habits
- having suicidal thoughts or actions
One thing you can do to help is be there for them and lend a listening ear so you can take positive action to help. Listening with no judgment and avoid giving advice are also good ideas when helping others are fighting with depression. In doing this, it can help them feel as though you understand their feelings and that they matter. Providing an outlet for individuals to talk out those difficult emotions can make them feel less overwhelmed. It is also a good idea for you to reach out to loved ones you think may be experiencing depression. They may feel ashamed or guilty and don’t want to burden others because of their negative emotions. A simple call, text, or visit can encourage them to accept that seeking help is okay.
Here are a few examples of what you can say:
- “Would you like space?” Not everyone will want to talk every time something is wrong and that is okay.
- “You matter to me.” Depression causes feelings of shame and hopelessness. Remind your loved one that they are important to you and they are NOT a burden.
- “Your feelings are valid.” Encourage them to vocalize their emotions. DO NOT belittle or mock those feelings.
- “Do you want company?” Reassure them that they do not have to be alone when they feel low.
- “I care, even if I don’t understand.” Some people with depression may feel as though others do not understand their experiences. Rather than pretending to understand, offer your compassion and loving reassurance.
- “How can I best support you?” Even though some people may not know what they need, others will know what might help or what makes things worse.
- “I will help you.” If you are able to help, let them know that you are willing to. Research therapists, be with them for the first phone call, talk to their spouse or parents about their feelings, or walk them to the first session.
- “Can I do something to distract you?” Sometimes, they may not want to engage in a difficult conversation about their feelings. Offer to do something fun with them like watching a movie, sharing a special meal, or taking a trip to a local garden.
- “I love you.” The simplest statement is the best. Just expressing your love can be a supportive gesture.
Ask them what they think would help them feel better. It may be taking a walk, watching a favorite movie, cooking, exercising, and try to encourage them by offering to do the activity together. Lastly, please encourage them to seek out professional help. The goal is to be supportive without barking orders. It is also important to look after your own mental health during this process. It can be draining and can cause your own mental health issues listening to the dreadful emotions your loved ones are experiencing during this difficult time.
- If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Call 911 or the local emergency number.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
- Trevor Project Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to speak with a crisis counselor
Check out the original article here for more information:
Cover image credit:
Creator: Jutta Kuss
Credit: Getty Images/fStop