According to the World Health Organization, depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 300 million people. An estimated 20 percent of Americans will experience a depressive episode at some point. That means most of us will know someone who has struggled or will struggle with depression. It might even be someone close to us. If you have a loved one suffering from depression, here are some ways to help.
Learn the symptoms.
Most people think of depression as sadness or sleeping all the time. While those are often symptoms of depression, other symptoms may be more prominent. These symptoms include irritability, disturbed sleep, aggression, slow movements, aches, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, weight changes, feelings of worthlessness, restlessness, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide or death. It may also help to understand the risk factors for depression. These include genetic factors, personal history, such as trauma or abuse, head injury, inflammation, and substance use.
When someone you care about is depressed, it’s tempting to try to cheer her up. You may have good intentions but this rarely helps. You can cheer up someone who is sad but probably not someone who is depressed. A better approach is to listen and ask questions. “How do you feel?” is a good place to start. Listening shows you care and helps you better understand what your loved one is experiencing.
Encourage him or her to get help.
Often, people who are depressed don’t want to get help for a variety of reasons. Some don’t want to look weak, some don’t believe they’re depressed, and some just think there’s no point because depression makes you pessimistic. Encourage your loved one to seek help and offer your assistance. The process of finding a therapist in network and making an appointment can feel overwhelming when you’re depressed, so helping with that part of it may move things along.
Watch for warning signs of suicide.
Be alert for signs of suicide risk. The most obvious is someone saying she intends to commit suicide. She may attempt to get the means to commit suicide, such as gun or pills or engage in self-destructive behavior. She may become more withdrawn or increase use of drugs or alcohol. She may give away valued possessions or say goodbye to people. If someone exhibits these symptoms, take them seriously. If you believe someone is at risk for suicide, stay with the person and call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
At Alta Lama Transformational Services, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms. Alta Lama uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan. We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.