Depression is an insidious and isolating disorder that can affect anyone. Recognizing a friend or a loved one who’s suffering from depression can be a difficult and emotional process. You may be at such a loss when they are not accepting the advice you have given to them.
A person may be diagnosed as having an episode of major depression if he experiences five or more of the following symptoms for two weeks or longer.
– Depressed mood or sadness most of the time
– Lack of energy, feeling tired all the time
– Inability to enjoy things that used to bring pleasure
– Withdrawal from friends and family
– Irritability, anger or anxiety
– Inability to concentrate
– Significant weight loss or gain
– Significant change in sleep patterns
– Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
– Physical symptoms, e.g. aches and pains even though nothing is physically wrong
– Pessimism and indifference
– Thoughts of death or suicide
By recognizing the signs of depression, you will be to be able to help your loved one or a friend. If you are looking for some ways to help someone cope with depression, these tips are for you.
1) Professional help
Before you try to tackle the problem on your own, you should understand that untreated depression is very serious and that while you can help, your friend should also see a doctor. You will face their objection, insisting they are not “crazy” or they feel fine. Speak to them and understand what they truly fear and coax them accordingly. Let the person know if you’ve noticed a change in their behavior and be honest with what you’ve observed.
2) Be there for them
The best thing you can do for someone with depression is to be there. At times, they will feel alone when they isolate themselves unknowingly. Speak warmly to them with statements like ‘You’re so important to me.’ ‘Tell me what I can do to help you.’ ‘We’re going to find a way to help you to feel better.’” Let them know that you and others care about them and are available for support. If they want to talk to you about how they’re feeling, know what to listen for.
3) Don’t judge
What you say will powerful impact on someone suffering from depression. Avoid saying statements such as: “You just need to learn how to be happy” or “I think this is really all just in your head. If you got up out of bed and moved around.”
You will not only make them feel worse, but encourage them to isolate themselves from you. The statements imply that depression is a matter of choice and not an illness.
4) Know your limits
Helping someone who is depressed isn’t always easy, so don’t be afraid to accept your own feelings. You are not a trained psychiatrist and helping someone with depression is a draining process. Know that you will feel frustrated or irritated at some point. You can’t necessarily feel like you are responsible for them, but rather be the pillar of strength for them when they need you to be there. With patience, comes hope, and when you have depression, hope can be hard to come by.
5) Don’t compare
Unless you’ve experienced a depressive episode yourself, saying that you know how a person with depression feels is not helpful. “I have a friend with depression too. He took up a new sport and he felt better.” Offering advice on what your friend did to get better will not help them understand what is causing them to feel this way.
6) Hugging and cuddling
Most patients suffering from depression will find a loss in their sex drive. Sexual drive is one of the first things to go when you’re depressed. Offer hugging and cuddling without an expectation of sex if you are in a relationship with them will definitely make them feel better.
7) Contact them
Call or visit the person and invite her or him to join you in daily activities. People who are depressed may become isolated because they don’t want to “bother” other people. You will need to work extra hard to support and engage someone who’s depressed. Ask them out for a coffee, swim or shopping session with people they are comfortable with. Routines that promote exercise, nutrition, and a healthy amount of sleep are helpful.
8) Achievable goals
A depressed person often asks, “Why should I get out of bed? There’s nothing for me out there.” Depressive avoidance and passivity can be reduced through small goals of accomplishment. Setting easy goals for them and praising them helps to encourage them to form a new lifestyle. Yes, even when they tell you they finally got out of bed.
Things you should NEVER say if your friends or loved ones suffer from depression.
“There’s always someone worse off than you are.”
“No one ever said that life was fair.”
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
“So you’re depressed. Aren’t you always?”
“It’s your own fault.”
“Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days”
“I think your depression is a way of punishing us.”
“Have you tried chamomile tea?”
If you are suffering from depression, check out the links below.
For more information:
Or call the healthline at 1800-223-1313. (Singapore)