Depression - Is Your Loved One Depressed?

Is your loved one suffering from Depression? Consider the following characteristics of Depression:

D = Decrease in energy levels

E = Evidence of weight loss or weight gain resulting from a change in appetite

P = Persistent sadness, anxiety or moods that appear empty

R = Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

E - Elevated irritability

S = Symptoms such as headaches or stomach problems that do not respond to treatment

S = Sleep problems

I = Interest in activities that were once pleasurable has vanished

O = Ongoing feelings of hopelessness or pessimism

N = No explanation for feelings of guilt and worthlessness

Have you been left feeling helpless because you suspect your loved one is in a depressed state and you are unsure what to do or how to help? Your support and especially your patience with your loved one is crucial. Supporting your loved one does not mean serving them meals in bed all day because they refuse to get up or buying into their feelings of worthlessness.

The following are some helpful suggestions:

  1. Listen and be patient. Don't interrupt or try to give advice;
  2. Give them lots of reassurance. Tell them you love them, care about them and you are there to help;
  3. Small tasks can be unbearable to a depressed person. Assist your loved one with laundry or make a trip to the grocery store for them or prepare a meal;
  4. Help your loved one stick to appointments and commitments

While you are helping your loved one cope with this affliction it is imperative that you take care of yourself and your own emotions. Remember, you are not responsible for your loved one's depression. Do not become overprotective while you are trying to be supportive. Take mental health breaks for yourself by watching a favourite TV program or enjoying a cup of tea. Be sure you have your own safe place to express your emotions. You can become frustrated, worn out and stressed so it's important to have a support group or therapist to talk with. Be sure you are not ignoring your own needs and be kind to yourself as well as your loved one.

You cannot become a counsellor to your loved one. You should avoid agreeing with negativity or pessimistic thinking or trying to provide advice. Simply encourage your loved one to seek professional help and continue to let them know you care. It is easy to sound as though you are making light of the problem so try to avoid phrases such as "cheer up", "Stop feeling so sorry for yourself" or "Why can't you just snap out of it?"

If there is any talk of suicide you must get help immediately. Go straight to their Therapist or Doctor or straight to the emergency department at the hospital if your loved one is threatening to commit suicide.

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