Focusing On Other People
My goal has always been to be there for others and make others as happy and content as possible. I focus my negative thoughts and depressive feelings on making others lives better. Terrible coping skill, but no one knew really what I was dealing with or how I felt until recently. I finally said forget it, Im letting the flood gate open and Im doing for me as I do for others. Heather F.
Getty image via Rohappy
Questions To Encourage Self
Self-education and self-care are both vital to successfully helping care for and foster a healthy relationship with a partner living with depression.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness reminds caregivers that you must first take care of yourself to be able to take care of the people you love. To do this successfully, here are a few questions to ask yourself in private:
- Are you getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night?
- Are you drinking or using drugs to cope with the stress?
- Are you exercising daily?
- Are you experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, insomnia, or digestive issues?
- Do you have people you can talk to who understand what youre going through?
- Where can you locate resources to help you?
Karen likens it to the oxygen mask that will drop from the ceiling of an airplane in the unlikely event of losing cabin pressure. Any parent would have the impulse to put it on their children first, but that usually results in the parent losing consciousness before they save the child. Both people suffer.
Put your oxygen mask on first, so you can best help your partner with this challenging situation.
How To Know If Someone Is Depressed
This article was co-authored by Mental Health America. Mental Health America is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting overall mental health for all. Their work is guided by the Before Stage 4 philosophy that mental health conditions should be treated long before they reach the most critical points in the disease process.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 225,108 times.
Depression is a serious mental health issue. Those suffering from depression need support and professional help. If you suspect someone is depressed, there are several signs to look for. Pay attention to any changes in behavior. The person may be sleeping less, eating less, or losing weight. Watch for any changes in mood. A person living with depression may suffer from mood swings and struggle to concentrate. If you believe someone is considering suicide, make sure they seek professional help.
Recommended Reading: Natural Remedies For Depression During Pregnancy
Depression Makes Them Want To Push Others Away
A common side effect of depression is changes to relationships. People living with the disorder may start to withdraw from their friends and family, and the mood symptoms may cause them to become irritable or angry.
That being said, a little encouragement can go a long way. Reader Avarie Downs, who identifies as having high-functioning depression, points out that even just an affectionate gesture can make a huge difference:
I wish he knew how overwhelming being sad during a depressive state is … sometimes it would be really nice to get a hug, instead of just the cold shoulder and being ignored because it is difficult to understand. Support is worth more than words could ever say.
Experts also recommend letting people with depression know that theyre not alone. Offering to listen to them talk about their experience or accompanying them to therapy can also help.
They Only See The Negatives
If your friend used to be quite confident about life but now only has bad things to say about themselves, it could be a sign of depression. Losing self-confidence is a common sign of depression, and often people cant see the positives in any situation nor in themselves. This resource looks at ways to break negative thought loops.
Read Also: Social Security For Anxiety And Depression
How To Explain Depression To Your Partner
When people are in a relationship they tend to become intertwined. The most common reaction to depression in one partner is the other partner assuming theyve done something wrong or that theyre deficient in some way. Its important to clear the air and minimise anxieties so you can work as a team and not two anxious individuals.
Here are some tips:
Make them know its not about them. Because this is likely their first anxiety, it is the most important thing to do. Explain why depression happens and how it can be outside of either partners control.
Be clear about both of your needs. Relationships evolve and change with the people in them. To make sure the emotional adjustments dont bring any unnecessary friction, be clear about how your emotions may be changing during this time, how this may impact your needs and theirs.
Show appreciation. Lastly, its important to show how much you care about your partner. Although its difficult for you at this time, its also difficult for them, and its important that you show them that you see that.
The Physical Signs Of Depression
While its important we dont self-diagnose ourselves or others, and acknowledge that depression feels different for everyone, common signs include:
- lack of energy, tiredness, and/or fatigue
- restlessness and agitation
- difficulty sleeping
- increase or decrease in appetite, which may lead to weight loss or gain
- smoking and/or drinking more than usual
- using drugs
Read Also: Why Do Women Get Depressed
They Might Frequently Turn Down Activities They Used To Love Or Would Otherwise Enjoy
Unless other explanations could equally be possible, an uncharacteristic lack of interest in activities over an extended period of time could be a sign that someone has depression. As mentioned above, depression is just as physically draining as it is mentally draining, which makes enjoying all the things you usually do difficult.
Previously-loved activities can even lose their appeal in general, because depression also commonly makes it difficult to enjoy or feel fulfilled by much at all. If you have no other way of explaining their decreasing interest, it could be a symptom of clinical depression.
Bipolar I And Ii Disorders
Bipolar disorders can cause individuals to suffer from mood swings, which range from hypomania or mania to major depression. Trained health professionals can sometimes struggle to tell the difference between bipolar disorders and major depressive disorder since most people do not visit their doctors when they experience hypomanic moods. An affected individual often only seeks treatment when he experiences a depressed mood.
You May Like: Medication To Help With Depression
How To Spot Depression In Loved Ones
One in five Americans is affected by mental illness. You probably know at least one person who has experienced anxiety, depression or something of the like in their life. While common, it can sometimes be difficult to spot in loved ones.
In fact, many of the 16 million Americans who deal with depression are left untreated or undiagnosed. As a family member or friend, deciphering between temporary sad moods or prolonged depressive episodes is an unenviable task. To mark Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight the signs and symptoms of depression, what to look for in your loved ones and the steps you can take to help if a loved one is depressed.
Supporting Your Loved Ones Treatment
One of the most important things you can do to help a friend or relative with depression is to give your unconditional love and support throughout the treatment process. This involves being compassionate and patient, which is not always easy when dealing with the negativity, hostility, and moodiness that go hand in hand with depression.
Provide whatever assistance the person needs . Help your loved one make and keep appointments, research treatment options, and stay on schedule with any treatment prescribed.
Have realistic expectations. It can be frustrating to watch a depressed friend or family member struggle, especially if progress is slow or stalled. Having patience is important. Even with optimal treatment, recovery from depression doesnt happen overnight.
Lead by example. Encourage the person to lead a healthier, mood-boosting lifestyle by doing it yourself: maintain a positive outlook, eat better, avoid alcohol and drugs, exercise, and lean on others for support.
Encourage activity. Invite your loved one to join you in uplifting activities, like going to a funny movie or having dinner at a favorite restaurant. Exercise is especially helpful, so try to get your depressed loved one moving. Going on walks together is one of the easiest options. Be gently and lovingly persistentdont get discouraged or stop asking.
Recommended Reading: How Does The Va Rate Depression
Bring Resources To The Conversation
Educate yourself as much as you can about depression, says Dr. Wheaton, and offer to share this information with your partner.
Depression looks and feels different for everyone, so one of the best things you and your partner can do is learn about the many aspects of depression and understand the signs, symptoms, and treatment options available.
Depression can also coincide with many other health and mental health conditions, so this is worth exploring, as there may be an underlying cause that needs attention.
Dr. Wheaton recommends that if youre worried your partner wont understand or will be invalidating, bring reputable information to the conversation.This could include statistics about depression or medical resources that explain what depression is, what it looks like, and how it feels.
How you bring up the conversation and how you continue the conversation depends on the dynamic of the relationship, but giving your partner information allows them the opportunity to better understand what youre going through.
Life Events And Depression
Research suggests that continuing difficulties, such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness or prolonged exposure to stress at work can increase the risk of depression.
Significant adverse life events, such as losing a job, going through a separation or divorce, or being diagnosed with a serious illness, may also trigger depression, particularly among people who are already at risk because of genetic, developmental or other personal factors.
Also Check: How To Relieve Depression During Pregnancy
Does Depression Look The Same In Everyone
Depression can affect people differently, depending on their age.
Children with depression may be anxious, cranky, pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die.
Older children and teens with depression may get into trouble at school, sulk, be easily frustrated feel restless, or have low self-esteem. They also may have other disorders, such as anxiety and eating disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or substance use disorder. Older children and teens are more likely to experience excessive sleepiness and increased appetite . In adolescence, females begin to experience depression more often than males, likely due to the biological, life cycle, and hormonal factors unique to women.
Younger adults with depression are more likely to be irritable, complain of weight gain and hypersomnia, and have a negative view of life and the future. They often have other disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, and substance use disorders.
Middle-aged adults with depression may have more depressive episodes, decreased libido, middle-of-the-night insomnia, or early morning awakening. They also may more frequently report having gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation.
Depression Statistics: Disturbing Trends Helpful Treatment
Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who, like Kashuk, know exactly what it means to be depressed. An estimated 17.3 million, or 7 percent, of adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, making it one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States.
Whats more, a recent report from Mental Health America, a nonprofit founded in 1909, offers startling statistics pertaining to one of depression’s most disturbing symptoms: thoughts of suicide.
According to its 2021 State of Mental Health in America report, suicidal ideation among adults increased by 0.15 percent between the 2016-2017 calendar year and the 2017-2018 calendar year, the most recent years for which statistics are available.
There is a bright side. Although there is no one-size-fits-all cure for depression, there are many effective treatment options, one of which is bound to help you heal if youre struggling with the illness. This cannot be emphasized enough, given that roughly two-thirds of people living with depression do not receive the care they need, according to a report in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, published online February 22, 2019.
Also Check: Does Taking Melatonin Cause Depression
How You Can Support A Loved One Feeling Depressed
If several of the above signs apply to someone you know, they may well have depression.
They may not have spoken to anybody about their concerns, or even realise thats what theyre experiencing, so try to encourage them to open up and talk about how they feel.
Be careful how you approach the subject. Statements such as, cheer up or pull yourself together arent helpful and can make people defensive.
Instead, focus on listening. You may not feel qualified to offer any advice, and thats ok. Its not about finding solutions to everything theyre feeling its about reminding them that theyre not alone and youre there to support them.
It can be difficult for someone suffering from depression to communicate. So do your best to encourage them to talk and listen without judgment.
Just listening in a non-judgmental way, and allowing them to articulate their feelings, can be invaluable.
Depression Treatment: Lifestyle Changes Talk Therapy Antidepressants
If you suspect that depression is interfering with your life, talking about what youre experiencing and discussing treatment options with a medical professional is essential. As actress Taraji P. Henson, who describes her depression as suffocating darkness, recently explained in an interview with Self magazine, When youre quiet, things arent fixed. It gets worse.
The good news is that theres abundant evidence that people with depression who seek treatment will find significant relief from lifestyle changes, talk therapy , medication, or a combination of all efforts, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Don’t Miss: Depression In Middle Aged Males
What Risks And Complications Can Depression Cause
Having depression can cause other problems. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health, and it may affect other areas of your life too. For example, depression may cause:
- disturbed sleep,
- difficulties with work and your hobbies,
- difficulties keeping contact with friends and families, or
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming.
Some people might also drink more alcohol to try and relieve depression. However, as we said in the previous section above, this can actually make depression worse.
If you have any of these problems, speak to your GP.
Signs Of Depression In Women
As children grow older into their teenage and adult years, females are more likely to become depressed, primarily due to biological and hormonal changes.
There are specific types of depression that only affect women, mainly due to hormonal changes that occur at various times of their lives. For instance, women can become depressed when pregnant, called perinatal depression, or after the birth of their child, called postpartum depression. Women may also experience depression during their menstrual cycle or during menopause.
Common signs of depression in women include sadness, helplessness, decreased libido and digestive issues such as diarrhea or constipation. They may also experience weight gain, an increased appetite and trouble sleeping.
Also Check: How To Ease My Depression
The Different Types Of Depression
Many people are unaware that there is more than one type of depression. Types of depression can fall into two different categories: dysthymia and major depressive disorder. Because there are so many forms of depression, a depressed individual should speak with a health professional to better understand his symptoms. The health professional can help select an appropriate treatment. Below are a few details on some of the different types of depression.
They Can Be Unusually Irritable
A depressed persons behavior might be interpreted as melancholy even if thats not what theyre really feeling. Irritability is a frequently overlooked symptom of depression that is also very common. This should be understandable, since depression is a health problem you cant see or strictly measure, making it hard to combat.
The constant work it takes to keep up all the necessary aspects of life while dealing with depression also drains the person, and leaves little room for patience or understanding.
If someone you know discovers theyre clinically depressed and shares this with you, you may initially be confused if their previous behavior didnt fit the common misconception of the shy, silent depressed person. If they tend to have a short temper and are quick to annoy, thats actually a side effect of depression.
You May Like: Anti Depression Meds That Cause Weight Loss
Emotional Signs Of Depression
There are also many emotional signs of depression, some of which may seem obvious, while others are harder to spot.
The most common emotional signs of depression are:
- an unshakable feeling of sadness
- being in low spirits all the time
- crying a lot, with or without a trigger
- feeling disconnected or detached to everything around you
- having no interest in normal activities, especially ones that used to be enjoyable
- not getting any pleasure out of life
- trouble concentrating or remembering things
- difficulty making decisions
- withdrawing from family and friends
- irritability and impatience
- feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and despair
- feeling guilty for everything, as if everything that goes wrong is their fault
Everything at home was fine my family were doing well. But I was preoccupied with work all the time, things just went around and around in my head. I wasnt getting enough rest, I wasnt eating very sensibly, I wasnt getting anything out of music or walking. There were times when I had thoughts of jumping in front of a train.
Some people externalise their feelings of depression and become irritable and angry, while others may internalise their feelings and become sad and withdrawn. Some people may do a combination of the two, or alternate between them.
Depression doesnt always have an obvious trigger. But it can also develop as a response to difficult circumstances. Stress can trigger depression, and exacerbate and prolong it.