Symptoms Of Major Depressive Disorder
The essential feature of a major depressive episode is a period of at least two weeks marked by either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. In children and adolescents, the mood is more likely to present as irritable than sad.
Other symptoms can include the following:
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts and irritability
- Symptoms cause impairment in social and occupational functioning
If Someone Has A More Serious Anxiety Problem Avoid Stigmatizing Them
What can we do for folks with more serious issues? People experiencing things like panic disorder, depression mixed with anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or obsessional thinking may fear that theyre literally going crazy. Helping them may feel beyond your ability.
You can still be supportive in many ways. When someone is experiencing significant anxiety, its helpful to reassure them that your overall perception of them hasnt changed. Theyre still the same person theyre just suffering a temporary problem situation that has become out of control. Theyre not broken and who they are hasnt changed. To the extent possible, you can help the person stay connected to positive aspects of their identity by participating in or encouraging their interests and hobbies.
Sometimes, individuals who have chronic anxiety problems arent interested in changing. For example, you might be friends with someone who has agoraphobia or an eating disorder, but their condition is long-term and stable. In these cases, you can be accepting of that person so that they dont feel isolated. Being matter-of-fact about their limitations without excessively shaming them or insisting they should pursue becoming normal is often the best strategy.
Let Them Know Youre There For Them
Depression can have a negative impact not just on the emotional elements of a persons life, but also on the more practical side. They may struggle to keep on top of daily chores and responsibilities due to a lack of energy or general interest in day-to-day life.
It can be really helpful to offer practical support to your loved one, whenever they need it. Ask them about the ways in which you can help them. It could be doing their weekly shop, helping with laundry or cleaning, or even cooking a few healthy meals.
Also, little gestures to let your loved one know that youre thinking of them can go a long way. Buy them their favourite magazine, surprise them with flowers, pick up the phone to tell them you love them, or just sit with them in silence it can all really help.
“My hopes for the future are that I’ll be able to handle myself. And to gain a better understanding of who I am, where I am and where I’m going.
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Conquering Any Further Concerns You May Have Regarding Opening Up About Your Anxiety
Everything that’s covered in Sections 1, 2 and 3 will make you feel significantly more comfortable opening up and talking about your anxiety. However, you may still have a few fears, worries or concerns that are holding you back from doing so, and in the last section of this book, I’m going to help you overcome the most common ones that you’re likely to have.
Donts Or Things That Can Be Unhelpful
- Pressure them to just relax or calm down
- Stay away or avoid the person
- Pressure them to manage how theyre feeling with drugs or alcohol
- Assume that you can make them feel less anxious on your own
- Help them avoid situations that make them feel anxious
- Assume the problem will just go away
At times, caring for a person with anxiety or depression can be difficult, and its not unusual for a carer to experience anger, guilt or fear. The following are some practical tips that can help carers cope and look after themselves. Firstly, learning about anxiety or depression can help you to understand why a person with the illness/condition/experience acts in a certain way. This acquired knowledge may help you to separate the illness from the affected individual, and realise that their mood, behaviour and reactions are not necessarily directed at any person in particular. Secondly, it is important for family members and friends to avoid burnout by looking after themselves as well as their loved ones. Make sure you spend time doing things you enjoy. This will help to ease tension, limit the stress of the situation, and ultimately make you a more balanced support for your loved one.
For me personally I have found the headspace app and exercising the best way for me to deal with the anxiety. I hold my hands up that I struggle to talk to people about it but I know that I have an amazing family and a great group of friends that I know will be there when I am ready to talk.
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Help Them With Other Options
If your loved one isnt happy with their treatment or would like to try a different option, you can also help them seek different resources or services. You can find general advice in the Ask Us section of HeretoHelp. To find local services, call the BC Mental Health Support Line at 310-6789 or email us.
Know The Different Forms Depression Can Take
Depression often involves sadness or a low mood, but it also has other, less well-known symptoms.
For example, many people dont realize depression can involve:
- confusion, difficulties with memory, or difficulty focusing
- excessive fatigue or sleep concerns
- physical symptoms such as stomach distress, frequent headaches, or back and other muscle pain
Your friend may often seem to be in a bad mood, or feel exhausted a lot of the time. Try to keep in mind that what theyre feeling is still part of depression, even if it doesnt fit into the stereotypical versions of depression.
Even if you dont know how to help them feel better, simply saying Im sorry youre feeling this way. Im here to help if theres anything I can do may help.
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Support Your Loved One In Their Day
While starting treatment is a crucial component to managing depression, your loved one may still need help with their daily functioning. One good way to help may be offering to go to a therapy appointment with them to hear directly from their mental healthcare provider, says Michelle Riba, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry and associate director of the Comprehensive Depression Center at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
You can also offer to help them with tasks that may feel overwhelming, like grocery shopping, laundry, or cleaning the house, or simply suggest you take a quick walk around the block together to get them out and about, Dr. Riba says.
Establishing a routine is also very helpful, says Thames. You might try to make that walk happen every day, for example. Regular physical activity can help ease stress and release endorphins and other neurotransmitters, or chemicals in the brain, that play a role in boosting mood, Thames says.
One form of treatment for depression is behavioral activation, which involves engaging in activities one find meaningful, such as doing an enjoyable form of exercise or volunteering, according to the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Encouraging your loved one to do activities that give them personal satisfaction is important but dont go overboard with activities and socializing, Thames cautions.
Ask Them What They Need From You
To show further understanding and support, ask the person what they need. They may need:
- reminders to take medication
- company when visiting the doctor or attending therapy
- home-cooked meals
- encouragement to socialize or exercise
- a hug or a hand to hold
- to be left alone sometimes
Helpful questions to ask include:
- What can I do to help?
- Would it be helpful if I ?
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Your Very Own Anxiety Letter
Because anxiety is so difficult to put into words, Ive done it for you by drafting a letter on your behalf that explains to your loved ones exactly what anxiety feels like, as well as some of the ways they can support you through it.
Youre welcome to edit this letter in any way you like to make it as applicable to you as possible, and even if you dont want to actually give it to your loved ones , then youll still find this letter an extremely useful resource to help you explain your anxiety.
Helping Someone Whos Depressed
It can be overwhelming and frustrating when a loved one has depression, especially if you lack the knowledge of how to help them.
You may experience a sense of helplessness and feel as though you dont know where to turn, or what to do for the best. However, the support of friends and family can play a hugely important role in helping someone recovering from depression, which is why its so important that youre aware of the things you can do to help.
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Symptoms And Signs Of Depression
Depressive symptoms vary depending upon the person. Some depressed people experience only a few symptoms while others experience many. For a depression diagnosis, a person usually has experienced several symptoms persistently for at least two weeks.
The following list of common symptoms from the National Institute of Mental Health may be present in someone suffering from depression:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
A patient who has taken the GeneSight test, Doreen, describes her depression like this: It was like a cloud happened in my head. I would cry, I didnt want to eat, and didnt want to have a thing to do with anyone.
NIMH reports that common symptoms of anxiety could include:
Things To Remember About Depression
Depression isnt anyones fault
Its important to understand that your loved one cant help the way theyre feeling and its not their fault. Treating your loved one with compassion and understanding is incredibly important.
You cant flick a switch and cure depression
Unfortunately, theres no quick fix for depression and your loved one cant simply pull themselves together. It will take small steps for them to recover, and what helps one person will not necessarily help someone else.
Patience is invaluable
When youre suffering from depression, the thought of getting out of bed and going through the daily motions can be exhausting. However, this doesnt mean your loved one lacks the motivation to get better. Allow them to go at their own pace and comfort level, and support them where you can.
Depression is a serious but treatable condition
Your role here isnt to fix your loved ones depression. In most cases, it takes professional treatment from highly qualified people to overcome depression. The best thing you can do is be as supportive, compassionate and patient as possible.
Further reading on depression:
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Encourage Them To Embrace A Healthy Lifestyle
Depression and anxiety can make it difficult, if not impossible, to lead a healthy lifestyle. How can you make it to a morning flow class if just getting out of bed feels like a monumental achievement? Gollan recommends checking in on your loved ones to encourage them to keep a normal sleep schedule, eat three nutritious meals a day, get out of bed in the morning, and exercise. Accomplishing goals, even small ones, creates a sense of mastery, which can reduce symptoms of depression.
If someone is anxious, Gollan recommends helping him or her recognize the likelihood that something bad will happen, think of actions they can take to increase or decrease that probability, and work on letting go of the anxiety.
How To Help Someone With Anxiety
All of us worry and get scared from time to time. But those with anxiety may feel consumed by fears of things that might seem irrational to others. It can be hard to relate to these concerns, and as a result, many people dont know how to best help someone with anxiety. People are often dismissive of people experiencing anxiety, says Joseph McGuire, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist with Johns Hopkins Medicine. With other medical illnesses, you may be able to see physical symptoms. But with anxiety, you dont necessarily see what the person is dealing with. So its important to be sensitive to what the person with anxiety is going through, even if it doesnt make sense to you. Its distressing to watch a loved one experience panic attacks and face anxiety every day, but there are things you can do to help. It starts with recognizing the signs of excessive worry and understanding the best ways to support your loved one.
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Components Of Stress Management
Stress is one of the most common mental issues that people face these days. Even though stress is not a serious condition, it can affect your productivity and overall well-being. At such times, it is difficult to think of ways to tackle stress. The key is to find some stress management techniques that work for you and make the most of them.
Stress management is a critical part of staying healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. There isn’t an easy solution to managing stress, but being more aware of how your body responds to it can make it easier. Stress responses aren’t all bad, but they’re also not something you want to live with constantly.
Stress management is a way to deal with the everyday stresses in your life. It involves identifying and reducing or eliminating the causes of stress while increasing your ability to cope with stressful situations.
The three main components of stress management are:
Stress is a harmful condition that affects individuals on a psychological level as well as physical level. Stress can affect an individual’s mental, emotional and physical health and can cause depression, anxiety and even irrational behaviour.
Cut Out Substances Together
Anxiety and bipolar disorder increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder. Your loved one may reach for alcohol, for instance, as a way to cope with difficult emotions. Its not a healthy coping mechanism, and it can lead to more problems in the long run.
Drugs and alcohol are obviously problematic, but also help your loved one cut out nicotine and caffeine. If they smoke or drink coffee or energy drinks, cutting back can help, especially with anxiety. Support your loved one by making healthier choices together. Doing so will make it easier for both of you.
Help Your Loved One Get Treatment For Depression
Somebody with depression may need help seeking care, both because of a sense of stigma or shame and because their illness makes it harder for them to manage tasks like finding a mental health provider or scheduling an appointment. Suggesting that you can do these things for them, remind them when the appointment is coming up, and accompany them to the visit can help them get treatment sooner rather than later.
If theyre hesitant to see a mental health professional such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, see if theyre willing to visit their primary care doctor, especially if this is someone they already know well and trust, Thienhaus says. Although its best to see someone specializing in mental health, the important part is getting connected to some form of help when needed.
You may also have to rethink the words you use to talk about depression treatment because different people may have distinct ways of viewing the condition, Thames says. Some people, for example, may not know to use the word depressed to describe how they feel, and might instead perceive their symptoms as being stressed out or not myself, for example.
Matching the language that the person can identify with is important when attempting to intervene, Thames says.
How To Help Someone With Depression And Anxiety
Armed with a better idea of what depression and anxiety typically involve, we can move on to look at how to help loved ones who are struggling with these types of issues.
Firstly, you should be aware that even when you want to help someone with depression or anxiety, its vital to be sensitive to what kind of help they want. Some people will be grateful for any assistance, while others will find it difficult to accept help and may feel embarrassed or weak. If youre ever in doubt, check in with your loved one and simply ask if they are comfortable with what youre offering. This is always better than a pushy, domineering approach.
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How To Help Someone With Depression
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Verywell / Bailey Mariner
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
If someone you love has depression, you may wonder how you can help. You may even experience a range of difficult feelings of your own, such as worry, disappointment, and anger.