Silver Lining

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How to Help Someone With Depression

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Depression affects millions of individuals of various ages across the world – in the US alone, that number is 14.8 million. Due to its prevalence, it’s likely that you know a family member or friend or will someday meet someone with this condition. It may seem a daunting task to deal with someone who has depression, especially if it’s someone you love or care about greatly. You might feel frustrated, helpless, angry, or guilty, and that’s okay. Helping someone with depression is no easy task, but here are some tips that can make the process more manageable.

 

The first step to helping a depressed friend or family member is understanding how depression works. Granted, it’s not possible to know and comprehend everything your friend is feeling, nor is depression exactly the same in each person. There are, however, some basic things that are true across the board:

 

  • Depression should not be taken lightly. It is definitely a serious condition that, if not addressed, can have huge repercussions. Avoid telling your friend to just “snap out of it” or to look on the bright side, as this will be very difficult if not impossible for them to do.
  • It’s the depression talking. A depressed person will often say hurtful or rude things that they actually don’t mean, so don’t take things too personally if they lash out at you.
  • Don’t hide the problem. If you make excuses for the depressed person and try to cover up the fact that they aren’t feeling well, you might actually be making things worse. This can indicate to your depressed friend that his/her condition is not significant and prevent him/her from seeking help.

 

  • Their depression is not your fault, nor is it theirs. You’re not responsible for the way your loved one feels, nor is it their fault for not being strong enough. In the end, their recovery is in their own hands, not in yours, although your support and kindness will definitely help them recover faster.

 

Now that you have a better understanding of the workings of depression, here are some things you can do for your loved one:

 

  • Communication is key. Let your loved one know that you care about and want to help them, and make yourself available should they need you. Offer to do their groceries for them or call them just to check up on how they’re doing (if they don’t respond, be sure to leave a voice message). For someone with depression, knowing that someone cares can make a huge difference.
  • Listen. Sometimes, your loved one might just want someone to listen, and that’s enough. You don’t have to try to fix their problems, just pay attention to what they are saying and show compassion.
  • Encourage them to seek help. With all the mental health stigma around these days, many people might feel embarrassed about seeking therapy or medicine for their condition, and that’s a shame. If your loved one feels uneasy about seeking professional help, you can suggest helping them find a doctor and going with them to the first visit.
  • Take care of yourself. Dealing with a depressed individual can be draining, so make sure you’re not neglecting your personal needs. Set your boundaries and make sure your own life stays on track. If your loved one says something that upsets you, don’t be afraid to gently let them know how you feel. Finally, find your own group of supportive friends and family to help you help your loved one.

 

 

Sources

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Depression: Dysthymia

Definition: A mood disorder consisting of the same cognitive and physical symptoms of depression, symptoms that are less severe but last longer. Also known as chronic depression.

 

Symptoms: Since Dysthymia is a mild but chronic form of clinical depression, the symptoms are similar and somewhat less severe, as listed below.

  • Loss of interest in daily activities and things you once enjoyed
  • Lack of energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and emptiness
  • Difficulty sleeping or altered appetite

 

Statistics:

  • 67.5% of Americans with dysthymia are receiving treatment
  • 1.5% of adults are affected by dysthymia
  • 11.2% of 13-18 year olds are affected by dysthymia

 

How to Feel Better:

  • Getting an effective treatment: by psychotherapy (talk therapy) or antidepressants
  • Ask doctor about healthy lifestyle habits
    • Balanced diet
    • Getting regular exercise
    • Avoiding alcohol and smoking
    • Being close with family and friends for strong social support

 

Sources:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/dysthymic-disorder-among-adults.shtml

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024769/

http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/chronic-depression-dysthymia?page=3#1

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

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Definition: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is related to change in seasons. This type of depression begins and ends at about the same time every year.

Symptoms:

  • Major Depression
    • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a subtype of major depression
    • Having low energy and losing interest in activities that you used to enjoy
    • Changes in appetite or weight
    • Having trouble with sleeping
    • Feeling sluggish or agitated
    • Having trouble concentrating
  • Fall and Winter SAD
    • These symptoms are specific to depression that occurs during the fall and winter, sometimes known as Winter Depression
    • Problems getting along with other people
    • Being very sensitive to rejection
    • Craving food high in carbs
    • Feeling “heavy” in the arms or legs
  • Spring and Summer SAD
    • These are symptoms specific to depression in the spring and summer, sometimes known as Summer Depression
    • Poor appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Agitation or anxiety

Statistics:

  • SAD is estimated to affect 10 million Americans
  • Another 1-2 million of Americans may have a mild form of SAD

How to feel better:

 

  • Bring light into your life. No, literally. Keep your room or wherever you are well-lit, either by opening the blinds on your window or by including a few extra lamps in your room. You can also try cutting branches or bushes obscuring light in front of your window or simply try to sit in areas that are usually bright.
  • Go outside. If it’s a sunny day, get out there! It doesn’t really matter what you do outside – take a walk, eat a snack, or just enjoy the sunshine and nature around you. And if it’s cloudy or even rainy, still go outside. The outdoor light will still help elevate your mood.

 

Sources

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad.htm


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Major (Clinical) Depression

Definition: a mood disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness.

Symptoms:

  • feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
  • loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
  • significant weight loss/gain without any attempt to do so
  • insomnia or increased need to sleep
  • slowed behavior or restlessness that is obvious
  • constant fatigue
  • feelings of worthlessness, guilt
  • trouble making decisions and/or concentrating
  • thoughts of suicide or self harm – please get help as soon as you can! You are loved and help is available; there are many people who can and want to help you feel better. 🙂

Statistics:

  • Prevalence: very common; more than 3 million cases a year in the United States alone.
  • One in eight teens has clinical depression; so do one in thirty-three children.
  • The median onset of depression is 32, but anyone from young children to senior adults can get it.

How to feel better:

  • Foster Relationships: reach out to people you trust, such as a parent or close friend, and tell them how you feel. If you don’t feel like you can trust anyone you know, there are plenty of online resources and telephone hotlines (1 (800) 273-8255) you can use to talk to professionals who are trained to help people like you.
  • Exercise: Even if you don’t feel like it, try to get yourself moving, whether you’re taking a walk or playing a game of basketball with a friend. Research has shown that exercise fights depression as well as some antidepressants.
  • Beat Negative Thinking: It’s okay to make mistakes; no one is perfect, and that’s perfectly fine. Surround yourself with positive people and drop perfectionism. You can also try keeping a log of positive things that happen to you every day to help yourself think more positively.
  • Hobbies: Do things you enjoy (or used to enjoy), such as a sport or other activity. Even if you don’t feel like doing it at the moment, you might be pleasantly surprised by how you feel afterwards. Doing something will also keep your mind busy and rouse you from your low.
  • Laugh: While it might seem overly simple, laughing or even just smiling has been shown to scientifically increase your happiness. Watch a funny TV show or some cute baby animal videos on Youtube.
  • Professional Help: When all else fails, don’t be afraid to seek out professional help. Seeing a psychiatrist isn’t shameful – it’s smart. You’re getting the help you need and deserve, and you’ll feel better soon.

 

Addition Links and Sources for this Article:

Hotline (call for instant professional help 24/7): 1 (800) 273-8255