When it comes to what you can do to help loved ones with depression there are several things one can do to help them get through this time of their life. One of them is being open and talking about depression. Family members or closest friends are the ones who first know that their loved one is depressed. This is because they interact with the person daily and can notice any slight changes in behavior or how they feel.
The symptoms to watch out for include:
- mood changes or unusual irritability
- loss of interest in daily activities
- noticeable change in eating habits
- inability to make decisions
- being indolent
- having unusual pains
- oversleeping or sleeping too little
- use and abuse of drugs
All these are indicators of onset of depression in a friend or a relative. These set a ground for talking about possibility of having depression. One must admit it is difficult to start having this conversation.
You can start by pointing to the listed changes in their behavior or finding out why they are feeling down. One should be careful not to accuse them of anything or engage in an argument with them even if they argue.
Listening to the patient
It is essential to offer a listening ear to the patient. When the conversation begins, one should empathize with the patient. Try to understand the patient and being careful not to challenge them. A good listener should not be judgmental but should help the patient open up to them. Unless one has actually gone through whatever they are going through they should not lie to the patient they know how that feels.
This can be reached by understanding that being depressed is not a personal weakness but a mental illness. Family and friends should be in the front line in encouraging the patient to seek for treatment. They should help the patient by finding a therapist and also make appointments for them.
They can also take the patients to the therapists just to encourage them and also help them in implementing what the therapist has recommended. Not taking things personal with the patient. Some patients may think that you are poking your nose in their affairs. This should not deter one from helping them. Do not take them personally under such circumstances. It takes time for the patient to actually realize that one is on their side and want the best for them.
Watching out for deterioration in their symptoms
One should ensure that the patient is getting better and not that the symptoms are getting worse. One should be extra careful especially when the patient thinks about death, or feels hopeless. One should not hesitate to confront the patient when they are thinking of suicide. Talking about suicide openly is a sure way of preventing it.
Do not be afraid to talk about it. Upon suspecting that the patient is suicidal, they should not be left alone since it will give them a chance to commit suicide. One should also be careful even after the treatment since a possibility of relapse on the patient. Be that friend that the patient really needs to go through such a tough time.
Image source: Thinkstock/JackF