Ask Questions And Dig For The Root Cause
The best way to understand a subject is to research it like a journalist and ask a lot of questions. With depression and anxiety, asking questions is critical because the terrain is so vast and each persons experience is so different. Chances are that your friend is not going to voluntarily cough up the information that you need, because he or she is too ashamed of the symptoms and afraid he or she will be judged. To better know whats going on, you must dig for the information. Here are a few questions to consider:
- When did you first start to feel bad?
- Can you think of anything that may have triggered it?
- Do you have suicidal thoughts?
- Is there anything that makes you feel better?
- What makes you feel worse?
- Are you under stress?
You know your sister, friend, brother, or father better than most mental health professionals, so help them solve the riddle of their symptoms. Together consider what could be at the root of their depression: physiologically, emotionally, or spiritually. Where is the disconnect?
Risk Factors That Can Make You More Vulnerable
Depression most often results from a combination of factors, rather than one single cause. For example, if you went through a divorce, were diagnosed with a serious medical condition, or lost your job, the stress could prompt you to start drinking more, which in turn could cause you to withdraw from family and friends. Those factors combined could then trigger depression.
The following are examples of risk factors that can make you more susceptible:
Loneliness and isolation. Theres a strong relationship between loneliness and depression. Not only can lack of social support heighten your risk, but having depression can cause you to withdraw from others, exacerbating feelings of isolation. Having close friends or family to talk to can help you maintain perspective on your issues and avoid having to deal with problems alone.
. While a network of strong and supportive relationships can be crucial to good mental health, troubled, unhappy, or abusive relationships can have the opposite effect and increase your risk for depression.
Recent stressful life experiences. Major life changes, such as a bereavement, divorce, unemployment, or financial problems can often bring overwhelming levels of stress and increase your risk of developing depression.
Chronic illness or pain. Unmanaged pain or being diagnosed with a serious illness, such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, can trigger feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Finding A Professional In Your Area
Psychiatrist : A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses, including substance abuse and addiction.
- American Psychiatric Associationwww.psych.orgProvides free information on depression and referrals to psychiatrists in your area.
Psychologist : Licensed to practice psychotherapy and has special training in psychological testing. Although referred to as âdoctor,â a psychologist cannot prescribe medications.
- American Psychological Associationwww.apa.orgVisit APAâs website for more information about depression, or call the toll-free number to be referred to a psychologist in your area.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker : Licensed to practice psychotherapy, with special training in addressing the person-in-environment. Has specialized training in human behavior, family behavior, psychology, and problem solving. Has a Masterâs degree in Social Work with two years of supervised post-graduate work providing clinical treatment.
- National Association of Social Workerswww.naswdc.orgProvides free information on depression and referrals to social workers in your area.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists : Licensed to practice psychotherapy and is trained to diagnose and treat mental health issues. Works with individuals, couples, families and groups. Has a Masterâs degree in Counseling Psychology with supervised postgraduate work.
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How You Can Help
It might seem small, but just doing things together, being there and staying connected can be a big help.
Depression and anxiety are so common that its highly likely that at some point youll know someone who might be experiencing it. It might be someone in your whnau, a team-mate or someone from your community. People with depression and anxiety are more likely to get through with help and support than on their own.Being depressed and anxious can be a really lonely experience. Sometimes the most important thing is having supportive people around or checking in. Having a coffee, watching television, phoning or texting to say Hi can help a lot. When youre feeling down, knowing that people are thinking of you can really lift your spirits.Often when people are feeling bad they dont want to go out and do anything. Everything feels just too hard. So encouraging them to do something with you is a great support. It could be something small like watching funny video clips, listening to music, going for a walk or window-shopping. Think about something you both like to do. There are different things you can do, depending on who youre trying to help:
Tell Them You Understand
Before you tell someone “I understand,” you should be certain that you actually do. Have you ever experienced clinically significant depression? If you have, it may be helpful for your friend to hear that you have experienced what they are feeling and that it can get better.
Keep in mind, however, that there are several different types of depression, and even if you did experience clinical depression, it may have been very different than what your friend is going through.
If what you have been through was a case of the blues, on the other hand, your friend may feel like you are trivializing their experience by comparing it to yours.
In this case, it would be best to simply admit that you don’t understand exactly what they are going through, but that you care about them and want to try. Often, the best words to say are, “I don’t understand, but I really want to.”
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How To Deal With Someone With Depression: It Can Be Frustrating
Knowing how to deal with someone with depression is a valuable skill. However, being aware of the right things to say and do when a loved one is mentally ill isnt always easy. Our connections with friends and loved ones can help draw them out of the darkness and make them feel less alone, but sometimes this responsibility can feel like too much. At times, trying to help a depressed person can be frustrating. They may be unprepared to admit theyre unwell or reluctant to seek help, or else they might withdraw from us entirely. Often, were forced to accept that we cannot know how to deal with someone with depression if they wont help themselves, but is there more we could be doing?
Take Their Feelings Seriously
If someone is living with a mental health concern, it isnt possible for them just to snap out of it, cheer up or forget about it. Acknowledge that what’s happening must be difficult to handle don’t tell them that their feelings are weird or unfounded.
Try not to approach your friend like theyre a patient or someone who needs to be fixed…this might make them feel embarrassed and belittled, and can make them close themselves off to you. Anzelmo
If youre not sure how to help someone with depression or anxiety, ask them. You could also offer them some options and let them choose what suits them best. For example, you could offer to listen and let them express their thoughts, or just to hang out, without serious conversation.
Try to be caring, compassionate and curious, and let them know that they matter to you and you are taking them seriously.
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Make Them Smile Because Laughter Helps And Heals
As I mentioned in my post “10 Things I Do Every Day to Beat Depression,” research says that laughing is one of the best things we can do for our health. Humor can help us heal from a number of illnesses. When I was hospitalized for severe depression in 2005, one of the psychiatric nurses on duty decided that one session of group therapy would consist of watching a comedian poke fun at depression. For an hour, we all exchanged glances as if to say Is it okay to laugh? The effect was surprisingly powerful. Whenever the black dog has gotten a hold of a friend, I try to make her laugh, because in laughing, some of her fear and panic disappear.
Let Them Know They Won’t Always Feel This Way
If I had to name one thing a person said to me when I was severely depressed that made me feel better, it would be this: You wont always feel this way. It is a simple statement of truth that holds the most powerful healing element of all: hope. As a friend or family member, your hardest job is to get your friend or brother or dad or sister to have hope again: to believe that they will get better. Once their heart is there, their mind and body will follow shortly.
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What Treatment Should I Be Offered
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence writes guidance on what treatment doctors should offer you. But your doctor does not have to give you these treatments. And the treatments may not be available in your area.
Different treatments may be available in your area. Your doctor might think these suit your symptoms more than the recommended treatments.
NICE recommend that depression is treated in different steps depending on how severe the condition is for you. The steps are as follows.
Step 1: Everyone who may have depression
Your doctor should offer you:
- an assessment of your symptoms,
- support, such as regular appointments in person or by telephone,
- information on how to deal with your symptoms,
- monitoring of your symptoms and follow-up, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 2: Mild to moderate depression
Your doctor may offer you:
- low-intensity interventions, such as self-help guided by the doctor or computerised cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- physical activity programmes,
- group cognitive behavioural therapy ,
- medication if you have a history of moderate or severe depression, or you have had symptoms for a long time, and
- referral for further assessment and treatment if needed.
Step 3: Moderate to severe depression, or mild to moderate depression when other treatments havent worked
Your doctor may suggest:
Step 4: Severe and complex depression or if your life is at risk Your doctor may suggest:
Social Isolation And Depression In Older Adults
Everyone needs social connections to survive and thrive. But as people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Studies show that loneliness and social isolation are associated with higher rates of depression.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought new attention to this issue however, many Americans felt socially isolated and lonely before the pandemic. If youre feeling socially isolated or lonely, and you cannot see your friends and family in person for any reason, try reaching out over the phone or joining a virtual club. Find tips to help you stay more connected.
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Can Depression Be Prevented
Many people wonder if depression can be prevented and how they may be able to lower their risk of depression. Although most cases of depression cannot be prevented, healthy lifestyle changes can have long-term benefits to your mental health.
Here are a few steps you can take:
- Be physically active and eat a healthy, balanced diet. This may help avoid illnesses that can bring on disability or depression. Some diets including the low-sodium DASH diet have been shown to reduce risk of depression.
Look For Signs That Treatment Is Working
There are lots of little ways to tell when treatment works it will be clear in the ways that your loved one looks and acts, says Angelos Halaris, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of outpatient clinical services at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
As they improve, someone with depression may start making better eye contact with you instead of looking down to avoid eye contact due to feeling vulnerable or anxious. Other signs of improvement, according to Dr. Halaris, include:
- Smiling occasionally and having more relaxed instead of tense facial features
- Having a calmer demeanor
- Isolating less and interacting with people more
- Eating and sleeping better
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Bring Up Your Concerns With Your Loved One
If you notice signs of depression in your loved one, its important to calmly share your concerns in a way thats nonjudgmental, says Ole Thienhaus, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. Its also crucial to give your loved one space to talk about what theyre feeling.
Listening is the most important part of beginning to help, Dr. Thienhaus says.
To get them talking, you may start by sharing the changes youve observed recently that worry you, Thienhaus says. When you do this, dont be critical just state the facts as you see them in a neutral way and pause often to give them room to respond to what you have to say.
Avoid any suggestion that they have no reason to feel so sad, Thienhaus adds. This means not saying things like, Look at all the good things in your life or Look at how much worse off so-and-so is, but she doesnt let her problems get her down.
Why is this harmful? Many people with depression already believe they should be able to snap out of it or should be mentally strong, Thames says, feelings that can stand in their way of seeking treatment for depression.
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Know The Warning Signs Of Suicide
The risk of suicide is high in those living with depression. No matter what you say or what you do to help your friend, they may still experience suicidal thoughts and feelings. Make sure to be on the lookout for warning signs of suicide and know when to seek help.
Some signs to watch for include:
- Talking about wanting to die
- Expressing that they feel like a burden to others
- Feelings of extreme hopelessness and sadness
- Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
- Sudden mood swings
- Giving away possessions or making a will
- Making ambiguous statements about not being around in the future
- Open discussions about suicide or having a suicide plan
- Previous suicide attempts
If you spot warning signs of suicide, you should talk to your loved one and ask them to speak with a mental health professional. When there is an immediate risk, you should remove dangerous items from the home, make sure you don’t leave them alone, and get help from a medical professional immediately.
If you or someone you love are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
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Or Spend Time With Loved Ones
Depression can tempt you to isolate yourself and withdraw from your friends and family, but face-to-face time can help wash away those tendencies.
If youre unable to spend time together in person, phone calls or video chats can also be helpful.
Try to remind yourself these people care about you. Resist the temptation to feel like youre a burden. You need the interaction and they likely do, too.
When you do the same thing day after day, you use the same parts of your brain. You can challenge your neurons and alter your brain chemistry by doing something entirely different.
Research also shows doing new things can improve your overall well-being and strengthen your social relationships.
To reap these benefits, consider trying a new sport, taking a creative class, or learning a new cooking technique.
Knock out a few birds with one stone spending time with other people and doing something new by volunteering and giving your time to someone or something else.
You may be used to receiving help from friends, but reaching out and providing help may actually improve your mental health more.
Bonus: People who volunteer experience physical benefits, too. This includes a reduced risk of hypertension.
When you do something you love, or even when you find a new activity you enjoy, you may be able to boost your mental health more by taking time to be thankful for it.
Research shows gratitude can have lasting positive effects on your overall mental health.
Other Sites That Can Help
www.atareira.org.nz – Support, education and information for family and whnau.Carers New Zealand – Information and support for people in caregiver roles.Mental Health Foundation – Information about mental health covering a range of topics.Small Steps – A range of simple tools you can use to manage your stress, anxiety and low mood.
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Dont Judge Or Criticize
From the outside, youll be able to see lots of ways in which your loved one could improve their life. However, when theyre depressed or anxious, it can be almost impossible for them to think rationally about these topics. So, whether youre trying to figure out how to help your spouse with depression or how to help your friend with depression, avoid negative judgments and critical comments at all costs.
In particular, you should avoid platitudes masquerading as advice, such as You just need to remember that the glass isnt half empty, its half full!.
Before you say anything, make sure it doesnt accidentally imply that the person is making a choice to be anxious or depressed.
Mental health issues are just like any other, physical health problem they are involuntary. Suggesting otherwise can make your loved one feel guilty, misunderstood or isolated. All of these feelings make depression and anxiety symptoms worse, not better.