Helping a Loved One With Depression
Depression is a serious, but treatable, disorder that affects millions of people every year. Depression does not discriminate and anyone, young or old, rich or poor, can fall victim to the disease. When a loved one starts to exhibit the symptoms of depression, it can be hard for family and friends to know what to say or do to help them get the treatment they need. The following article will explore how friends and family can help, and what types of treatment methods are available for people with depression.
Why would someone have a difficult time recognizing the signs of depression?
For people with depression, it can be challenging to know that what they’re experiencing is a mental health disorder. Sometimes, depression symptoms can manifest as physical aches and pains, or mimic other diseases. Also, a person’s age or gender can influence how their symptoms manifest.
Teens and children with depression are more likely than adults to complain of physical aches and pains, and also lash out at family instead of appearing tearful or sad. Adults are more likely to experience depression symptoms as a lack of motivation or energy, and a pervasive feeling of sadness and guilt. Elderly persons with depressive disorders can be hard to recognize because depression in this community often manifests as increased forgetfulness, social withdrawal, and aches and pains that can mimic the normal symptoms of aging. Men with depression are also more likely than women to become withdrawn, irritable, and escape through alcohol or drugs.
Furthermore, people with depression may feel stigmatized and ashamed that they have a mental disorder and will try to hide their symptoms from loved ones. This is more likely to happen with men who are depressed and the elderly. Teens with depression are often dismissed as being “moody” or experiencing growing pains. It’s vital that friends and family can recognize the symptoms of the disorder in a loved one.
How can you recognize the symptoms of depression in a loved one?
Depression is a whole-body disease that affects a person physically, emotionally, and mentally. If the following symptoms are present in a loved one for at least two weeks, they are likely suffering from depression and need to speak to a mental health professional:
- A lack of interest in activities that usually would give them joy.
- The person begins to express negative thoughts and feelings about themselves or life in general.
- Their eating habits and weight begin to change drastically – either eating too much or not enough and losing or gaining weight.
- Their sleeping habits start to change as well. They may begin to sleep too much or too little.
- They become angry and irritable at common obstacles that usually wouldn’t upset them.
- They express suicidal ideas, such as saying other people would be better off without them, or they may wonder what it would be like to be dead.
- They have lost confidence in themselves or express dread and pessimism about the future.
Depression symptoms will vary for everyone. But for people with severe, clinical depression, their symptoms will be noticeable enough to interfere with day to day life. School, work, and relationships will all suffer when a person is depressed. For some people, they may be fatigued, and sad and withdrawn without knowing why. Other people may not experience significant fatigue or sadness but will feel irritable and more angry than usual. For loved ones, there are several dos and don’ts when confronting a family member or a friend about their depression.
What should you not say to someone who is depressed?
It’s crucial not to become angry, blaming, or judgemental with a depressed individual. For some, untreated depression can take a considerable toll on the entire family, and it can be easy for loved ones to feel overwhelmed and resentful. But it’s critical that family and friends approach their depressed loved one from a place of love, concern, and understanding.
One of the most significant depression symptoms is a pervasive feeling of guilt and self-loathing. Heaping judgment or scorn on the depressed person can make this symptom much worse and cause them to shut down and not seek help for their disorder. Depressed individuals will often feel so much shame about their condition that they will not express their feelings and will believe that they can overcome their disorder through sheer willpower.
While in some cases depression will go away on its own, no one knows how long that can take. No one can predict how bad the disorder can get, and it puts people at risk of self-harm and suicide. Also, leaving depression untreated puts the person at risk of experiencing future episodes of the disorder. Future episodes, when depression is left untreated, tend to get worse over time, and not better.
What should someone say or do when helping a loved one with depression?
The most important thing to do is to encourage treatment. It’s critical that family and friends express to their depressed loved one that what they are feeling is a legitimate health condition, and not a character flaw or something to be ashamed about. Depression can sap someone’s motivation and their will to do anything to help their situation. What can go a long way to encouraging someone to get help is for family and friends to research a list of medical providers and treatment options for their loved one so that they are not so overwhelmed and have some idea of what treatment will look like.
How is depression treated?
Talk therapy is usually the first line of treatment for depressed patients.
But patients may respond to just talk therapy. There are numerous other treatment options, including deep brain stimulation techniques that are noninvasive, nonpharmacological, and highly effective for treating depression.
If you or someone you love is suffering from the symptoms of depression, please contact the experienced mental health professionals at Pulse TMS to explore your treatment options today for depression.