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The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. Carl Rogers

@ Peace Counselling Blog

Thoughts and ideas on mental health.

DEPRESSION

5 things to look out for if you suspect a loved one or someone you know, is depressed (and 4 ways you can help them right now).

"Here is the tragedy: when you are the victim of depression, not only do you feel utterly helpless and abandoned by the world, you also know that very few people can understand, or even begin to believe, that life can be this painful.” – Giles Andreae

 

“How depressing.” is something you might think as you wake up to another dreary day, or see your team lose (again). But true depression is not fleeting, easily
shrugged off, or forgettable. Depression takes over your life, making it impossible for you to eat, sleep, work, study or enjoy yourself. You feel worthless, hopeless, and helpless - day after day after day.

Here are five things to look out for if you suspect someone you know might be depressed, as well as the four most important things you can do to support them.

1.   Eating and sleeping

Often, people with depression will routinely miss meals and lose significant amounts of weight very quickly.

As for sleeping, they may struggle to get to sleep, or struggle to stay asleep, over a period of weeks or months. They might wake up hours before their alarm goes off and be unable to fall asleep again. Despite not sleeping, people with depression
may find it very hard to get out of bed every day. This is not laziness or tiredness, but a feeling that they have fallen into a very deep black hole and simply cannot get
out of it.

2.   Rumination

With lying in bed comes rumination. Rumination refers to the tendency to repetitively think about the causes, situational factors, and consequences of one's negative emotional experience (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1991).

Is a friend or loved one endlessly thinking about something that’s gone wrong – a conversation with a boss, an embarrassing moment – replayed and replayed like a broken record? Rumination is trying to fix a problem that’s not fixable, and the
thinking itself prolongs the depressed feeling.

3.   No enjoyment

People with depression lose their enjoyment for life. Hobbies, being with friends, spending time with their children – they have no drive or desire to do the things that used to bring them pleasure. Very low energy and no desire to go out and mix with other people over a long period of time is a key sign of depression.

4.   Raging or sobbing

Feeling depressed can leave people feeling very angry or tearful. They may feel overwhelmed, hopeless and despairing and can be irritable, aggressive and short-tempered.

5.   Self-loathing

With depression, your friend or loved one may be battling near-constant feelings of shame, fear, guilt and worthlessness. They may criticise themselves for mistakes
they think they’ve made throughout their lives and this criticism will be corrosive and non-stop.

 

  

“It's often difficult for those who are lucky enough to have never experienced what true depression is, to imagine a life of complete hopelessness, emptiness and fear.” - Susan Polis Schutz

 

Do you think someone you know is depressed? Here’s what you can do right now.

It’s important to remember that depression is treatable, and your friend or loved one does not need to carry on feeling so hopeless. Here are four things which can help:

If you’re scared they are suicidal

Suicidal ideation (having thoughts of suicide) is a common symptom of depression.

If you are scared your loved one is suicidal, don’t leave them alone. Call NHS 111 or your local A&E department, or talk to your GP and get support from your local crisis support team. You can also call the Samaritans on 116 123.

Get longer-term help

You cannot cure your loved one’s depression. You cannot take responsibility for helping them feel better over a long period of time with no support. Encourage your friend or loved one to visit the GP and – if necessary – get a referral to a psychiatrist. There are also many chatrooms and phone lines for supporting people with depression, as well as support groups for specific issues (co-dependence, workaholism etc.) There are also resources available to support people who are living with or caring for loved ones with depression.

Don’t keep it a secret

It’s incredibly difficult to support people with depression without telling anyone what you are going through. Tell friends and family. Tell your kids (age appropriately of course). Tell your kids’ schools. You don’t have to go through this alone. There is no stigma in getting as much help and support as you can.

Listen and offer comfort

You cannot “cheer someone up” when they have depression. It’s wiser not to offer solutions to their problems – just listen, hug them and keep reassuring them that you’re on their side.

 I can support people who have been diagnosed with depression, helping them reduce rumination and negative feelings, and reframing thoughts and feelings so they are kinder to themselves. I can also help those who are supporting friends or loved ones battling with depression.

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