Depression is a medical condition that can cause a number of symptoms, including depressed mood, fatigue, aches and pains, lack of interest in pleasurable activities and even suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Depression is a common disease, but many people suffering with depression don't feel comfortable talking about what they're going through, and it may be difficult for them to get help on their own. Here's how you can help your loved one cope with and recover from depression.
Educate Yourself about the Symptoms of Depression
If you think a loved one is depressed, educate yourself about the symptoms of depression. Symptoms include:
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, depression and guilt
- Crying spells
- Inability to concentrate
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Inability to make decisions, or difficulty making them
- Weight gain or loss that isn't intended
- Lack of sexual interest
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Unexplained chronic pain, including headaches and backaches
Depression is a common condition that affects 20% of Americans. Treatment is usually successful.
Encourage Your Loved One to Seek Treatment
The best thing that you can do for your loved one with depression is to encourage them to seek treatment. Your loved one may find seeking treatment very difficult. They may not want to talk about their feelings of depression, and they may find the thought of seeking treatment on their own overwhelming.
Encourage your loved one to seek treatment by talking to him or her about the depression symptoms you've observed and why you're concerned. Explain to your loved one that she should see a medical doctor as well as a mental health professional, because sometimes, the symptoms of depression are caused by physical illness. Offer to help your friend or relative make the first appointment, and offer to accompany your loved one to the first few appointments if she needs moral support.
If your loved one is expressing suicidal thoughts or feelings, or is behaving in a suicidal way, seek help immediately. Never disregard your loved one's suicidal thoughts or feelings, even if she seems to be joking. Suicidal thoughts, feelings and behaviors are a sign that your loved one's depression is serious and he or she needs immediate professional help.
Offer Emotional Support
You can help your loved one recover from depression by offering emotional support. Create a low stress environment for your loved one, and make it clear that your loved one's primary responsibility is to recover. Help your loved one with daily tasks that might be overwhelming, and make sure she attends therapy sessions, takes medication as prescribed, gets enough sleep and eats regular meals. Remember that depression makes life very difficult for your loved one, and things that may seem ordinary to you may seem daunting to your loved one.
Listen to your loved one, and accept any feelings she may express. Don't offer opinions or advice. Remind your friend or relative of her good qualities and and of how much she means to you. Make plans with your loved one and try to spend time together doing the things she once enjoyed, but don't force your friend or relative to do anything.