Talking To Someone With Depression
Here are some tips to help you when speaking to someone with a mental illness. If youre unsure where to start, ruok.org.au provides some simple advice:
- Be ready – are you in a good headspace, and do you have the time?
- Be prepared – are you ready for a difficult conversation where you dont have the answers?
- Pick your moment – have you chosen somewhere comfortable to talk, and an appropriate time?
You can find more helpful tips at ruok.org.au and beyondblue.
Know That Today Isnt Indicative Of Tomorrow
Internal emotions and thoughts can change from day to day. Tracking experiences through journaling or keeping a mood diary can help to remember this.
If you were unsuccessful at getting out of bed or accomplishing your goals today, remember that you havent lost tomorrows opportunity to try again.
Give yourself the grace to accept that while some days will be difficult, some days will also be less difficult. Try to look forward to tomorrows fresh start.
Helping A Suicidal Friend Or Relative
If you see any of the above warning signs:
- get professional help for the person
- let them know they’re not alone and that you care about them
- offer your support in finding other solutions to their problems
If you feel there is an immediate danger, stay with the person or have someone else stay with them, and remove all available means of committing suicide, such as medication.
Over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers can be just as dangerous as prescription medication.
Also, remove sharp objects and poisonous household chemicals such as bleach.
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How Is Depression Diagnosed
To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have five depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least 2 weeks. One of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Children and adolescents may be irritable rather than sad.
If you think you may have depression, talk to your health care provider. Primary care providers routinely diagnose and treat depression and refer individuals to mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists.
During the visit, your provider may ask when your symptoms began, how long they last, how often they occur, and if they keep you from going out or doing your usual activities. It may help to make some notes about your symptoms before your visit. Certain medications and some medical conditions, such as viruses or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same depression symptoms. Your provider can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests.
Read NIMHs Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.
Community Mental Health Centres
Community mental health centres provide support to adult residents experiencing serious mental disorders, serious and persistent mental illness, and addictions. They can also refer to other local resources. Assessment and support, and connection to other community resources.
- Cost: Covered by MSP
- How to access: Dial 2-1-1 or visit your community mental health centre
- Referral required? Self-referral
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What To Do When You Are Depressed
There are millions of people who struggle with depression each year. Imagine how much lives could be saved if depressed individuals knew what to do and how to work through their depression. This type of mental health issue is very serious, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be overcome. One of the best ways to beat depression is to know how to handle it. In order to make that happen, you have to know what to do when you are depressed.
Setting plans may sound basic and redundant, but planning is an excellent way of giving yourself something to look forward to. One of the best ways to set plans is either using a virtual calendar on your phone or a physical calendar. Taking notes of what needs to be done when is always helpful and it can also prevent you from feeling overwhelmed or unsure of what to tackle next. Following through with plans has a way of keeping people focused and busy having something to do can furthermore take your mind off depression or additional triggers.
Interact with Other People
Soak up Some Sunlight and Fresh Air
Take it One Day at a Time
Embrace Positive Thoughts
Seek Professional Help
At the end of the day, the choice is yours. However, if and when you are ready to seek therapy from BetterHelp, we will be here to support and guide you.
You Spend More Time Alone
With depression, you might find it challenging to enjoy the company of others for a number of reasons.
You may not feel up to socializing simply because you have less energy. Emotional numbness can make the social interactions you usually enjoy seem pointless.
Feelings of guilt, irritability, or worthlessness can also complicate your mood and make avoidance seem like the safer option.
Theres nothing wrong with spending time alone when you enjoy it. An increasing sense of loneliness, on the other hand, can make your mood even worse. You might begin to feel as if no one understands or cares about your experience.
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Treatment: When To Seek Professional Help And Where To Find Help For Major Depression
When to Seek Professional Help
Everyone feels low and depressed every now and then. How then, are you supposed to know when your depressive symptoms have reached a point when professional help would be a good idea? Here’s a good rule of thumb: If your depressed mood lasts for more than two weeks, or is seriously interfering with your ability to function at work, with your family, and in your social life, or is causing you to contemplate or plan to commit suicide, it would be a very good idea for you to consult with a mental health professional as soon as possible.
This advice to seek out professional help counts double with regard to any suicidal symptoms you may be experiencing. If you find yourself thinking seriously about suicide, please make an appointment with a mental health doctor as soon as you can.
If you are feeling acutely suicidal that you will end up committing suicide within hours or days unless you receive some relief, then bypass the advice about making an appointment with a doctor just take yourself immediately to your local hospital emergency room and tell them there that you are feeling suicidal. In such a case, there is no time to waste with appointments.
Where To Find Help
- Mental health specialists, including:
How To Find The Right Treatment
Sticking to your treatment plan is one of the most important things you can do. Its easy to get discouraged in the first few weeks of treatment, and you may feel like you dont want to continue. All types of treatment can take a few months before you notice a difference.
It can also feel like youre doing much better, causing you to stop treatment altogether. Never stop treatment without consulting your doctor first.
You should feel comfortable talking to your therapist. If you dont, try switching to a new one. You may have to meet with several therapists before you find the one thats right for you.
You should also talk to your therapist about your feelings toward your therapy sessions and your overall treatment plan. This allows them to work with you and make changes if your treatment plan isnt working.
Finding the right treatment is often a trial-and-error process. If one doesnt work, its good to move on. If 2 or more months have gone by and youve stuck to a treatment but dont feel any relief from the depression, its likely not working for you. You should experience relief from depression within 3 months of starting a medication.
Talk to your doctor immediately if your:
- depression doesnt improve after several month of treatment
- symptoms have improved, but you still dont feel like yourself
- symptoms get worse
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Tips To Help Someone Who Seems Down
- Let them know you care and are there to listen.
- Accept them as they are, without judging them.
- Gently encourage them to help themselves for example, by staying physically active, eating a balanced diet and doing things they enjoy.
- Get information about the services available to them, such as psychological therapy services or depression support groups in their area.
- Stay in touch with them by messaging, texting, phoning or meeting for coffee. People who are depressed can become isolated and may find it difficult to leave their home.
- Try to be patient.
- Take care of yourself.
How To Talk To Someone About Depression
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to someone about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries the person will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive.
If you dont know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You dont have to try to fix your friend or family member you just have to be a good listener. Often, the simple act of talking face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about their feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment.
Dont expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.
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Are There Warning Signs Of Suicide With Depression
Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Suicidal thoughts or intentions are serious. Warning signs include:
- A sudden switch from sadness to extreme calmness, or appearing to be happy
- Always talking or thinking about death
- Clinical depression that gets worse
- Taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving through red lights
- Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
- Putting affairs in order, like tying up loose ends or changing a will
- Saying things like “It would be better if I weren’t here” or “I want out”
- Talking about suicide
- Visiting or calling close friends and loved ones
If you or someone you know shows any of the above warning signs, call your local suicide hotline, contact a mental health professional right away, or go to the emergency room.
Diagnosing And Treating Depression
There’s no physical test for depression.
If you experience depression symptoms most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks, you should visit your GP. This is especially important if:
- you have symptoms of depression that aren’t getting any better
- you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- your work, relationships with friends and family, or interests are affected by your mood
It can be hard for people with depression to imagine that anything can help them but the sooner you seek help, the sooner the symptoms start to get better.
Your GP may examine you and perform blood or urine tests to make sure there isn’t another condition causing your depression symptoms, like an underactive thyroid.
When you see your GP, they’ll try to find out if you have depression by asking you questions. These are likely to be about your health, how you’re feeling, and how that is affecting you mentally and physically.
Telling your doctor your symptoms and the affect they are having on you will help your GP to tell if you have depression, and how severe the condition is. It’s important to be as open as possible.
Your conversation with your GP will be confidential. This rule can only be broken if your GP thinks there is a significant risk of harm to you or others, and that telling a family member or carer would make that risk lower.
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What Is St Johns Wort
St. Johns wort, botanically known as Hypericum perforatum, is a wild plant native to Europe and Asia. It has yellow, star-shaped flowers.
Its traditionally harvested around St. Johns Day in late June hence the name.
The plants flowers and buds can either be dried and made into capsules and tea or pressed for use in oils and liquid extracts.
Its most commonly used to treat depression and associated conditions, such as anxiety, sleep problems and seasonal affective disorder.
While its usually taken orally in the form of capsules, tea or liquid extract, it can also be applied directly to the skin as an oil.
In the US, its classed as a dietary supplement by the Food and Drug Administration and not approved as a prescription medicine for depression.
However, its one of the most commonly purchased herbal products in the US.
St. Johns wort is a wild plant. Its flowers and buds are commonly used as an alternative treatment for depression and other conditions.
Other Causes Of Depression
There are a number of things that can lead to developing depression.
- Stressful events big changes in your life, like bereavement, the end of a relationship or the loss of a job, can be difficult to deal with. When these things happen, it’s important to keep seeing friends and family instead of trying to deal with problems alone this increases your risk of developing depression.
- Giving birth pregnancy and birth can make some people vulnerable to depression. Postnatal depression can happen as the result of physical changes, hormonal changes, and the responsibility of taking care of a new baby.
- Loneliness your risk of depression gets higher if you aren’t in contact or spending time with family and friends.
- Personality some personality traits can put you at a higher risk of developing depression. These include low-self esteem or a habit of criticising yourself too much. These personality traits can come from your genes, which you get from your parents, or they can be as a result of experiences in your early life.
- Family history it’s more likely for someone to develop depression if a family member, like a sibling or parent, has experienced it before.
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It Can Interact With Many Common Medications
St. Johns wort interacts with a large number of commonly prescribed medications.
In most cases, it decreases their effects, but it can also increase them, potentially resulting in more frequent and severe side effects.
Its known to interact with the following medications, among others:
- Antidepressants: It can increase side effects when taken with some antidepressants. This can lead to serotonin syndrome, a rare condition in which levels of serotonin become too high and, in extreme cases, can be fatal (
St. Johns wort has been found to interact with many common medications. It is important that you speak to your doctor before taking it if you are currently on any other medications.
Seeking Help For Depression
Get help if you’re still feeling down or depressed after a couple of weeks.
Treatments for depression include psychological therapies and antidepressants.
You can refer yourself for psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy or counselling on the NHS. You don’t need a referral from your GP.
You can talk it through with your GP first if you prefer. Your GP can also tell you about antidepressants.
If you start to feel that your life isn’t worth living or about harming yourself, get help straight away.
- contact Samaritans on 116 123 for 24-hour confidential, non-judgemental emotional support
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Psychological Depression Symptoms Include:
- doing poorly at work
- difficulties with your family or home life
It’s not always possible to tell that you’re having symptoms of depression right away it can start and progress gradually. A lot of people don’t realise they’re ill and try to carry on and cope with their symptoms. Sometimes it takes a friend or family member to notice that there’s a problem.
Walk Away From Depression
Motivation to exercise may be scarce when you’re feeling well, let alone when you are depressed, but try to do it anyhow.
“The typical things that we all know are important to taking care of ourselves become that much more important when you’re dealing with depression,” Browning says.
Exercise is a proven tonic for depression. For decades studies have been showing that aerobic exercise improves mood in people who are depressed.
Researchers recently found that the amount of aerobic exercise recommended by the CDC for general good health — equivalent to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week — can bring about big improvements in depression.
The study, published in the January 2005 issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine, involved people with mild-to-moderate depression who did various amounts of exercise for 12 weeks. All groups in the study, including those in the control group, who only did stretches, had some improvement, but those who exercised as much as the CDC recommends fared best. In that group, 46% of the people reduced their symptoms by one-half, as rated on a scale of depression severity, and 42% no longer qualified as depressed when the study ended.
It’s important to start slowly with exercise. Decide what you can do, and as Aikens suggests, do a little bit less than that. If you think you could manage a 20-minute brisk walk, try 15 minutes first, and don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel better afterward.
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