How To Support A Loved One With Depression

Depression is a very complex disorder. No one understands what causes it; it can happen for various reasons. Some individuals may experience depression with the onset of a severe medical condition, while others might suffer from it due to life changes, like the loss of a family member or a move to a new workplace or home.

Depression manifests as different symptoms in different individuals. While some people might have mild depression, others might have symptoms that are more severe and difficult to manage. If a friend or loved one suffers from such, it’s important to identify the cause. It could be a medical condition that needs treatment or it could be the result of another mental health issue. If you or a loved one is experiencing depression, seek help immediately.

Why Is Good Mental Health Important?

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Good mental health is the state wherein an individual enjoys the compatibility of their mental constitution with their environment, a harmony in relationships, and a feeling of control over life.

Why should people take care of their mental health?

  • Mental health includes the ability to handle stress, social wellbeing, pleasure, vitality, creativity, concentration, memory, and mood. If any of these areas are compromised, it greatly reduces the person’s quality of life.
  • Mental disorders have risen over the last several decades, and, today, they’re one of the major reasons for disability. Mental disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or psychosis, can significantly damage a person’s social wellbeing, as well as their ability to function properly in their day to day lives. Therefore, taking care of one’s mental health is essential if one wants to live a productive and meaningful life.

Some people who don’t take care of themselves physically sometimes fall prey to severe mental disorders that may ultimately result in serious health conditions, and even death. A person suffering from any of the mental disorders may display signs like confusion, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disorders, thinking problems, fear, panic attacks, paranoia, speech disorders, auditory hallucinations, and impulsiveness.

These symptoms are clues and essential in diagnosing the mental health problem of a person. However, one won’t be able to determine if they have a mental health problem at an early stage. Thus, these symptoms should be checked out properly by a licensed health professional so that timely action can be taken.

What Is Depression?

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in America. It causes feelings of sorrow and/or a significant loss of interest in daily activities you once found enjoyable. It can lead to various physical and psychological problems.

What is depression?  To better understand this mental disorder, read on to know its different types, as well as its causes and symptoms.

Understanding Depression

There are several types of depression, and the symptoms of each type may present differently from one person to another.

understanding depression

The nine types of depression are:

  • Major Depression: It’s the most common type of depression that affects millions of people around the world. Major depression is also referred to as unipolar or classic depression. People with this type of disorder experience symptoms every day and most of the day.
  • Persistent Depression: It usually lasts for a few years and may not be as intense compared to classic depression. Persistent depression is also referred to as chronic depression or dysthymia.
  • Bipolar Disorder: People with manic episodes experience alternating episodes of happiness and sadness. Bipolar disorder was referred to before as manic depression.
  • Depressive Psychosis: This type of depression involves episodes of delusions or hallucinations. Some healthcare professionals refer to it as psychotic depression.
  • Perinatal/Postpartum Depression: The onset of depression during pregnancy or after childbirth is often caused by hormonal changes that may lead to mood swings, sadness, or anxiety. Postpartum depression and other emotional disorders are serious issues that shouldn’t be ignored. Once left untreated, postpartum and perinatal depression can cause several long-term and life-threatening effects.
  • PMDD: Premenstrual dysphoric disorder occurs as a severe form of PMS or premenstrual syndrome. While many women feel more sensitive or emotional before their period, PMDD sufferers may present depression symptoms similar to postnatal/perinatal depression.
  • Seasonal Depression: Some people experience depression symptoms during winter, and then improve when spring comes.
  • Situational Depression: Depression as a result of a tragic incident or event is called situational depression or adjustment disorder. The symptoms of situational depression are similar to the symptoms of major depression.
  • Atypical Depression: Although the symptoms of atypical depression may not seem severe like persistent or major depression, it’s no less serious or unusual. It’s a type of depressive disorder that resolves or goes away when a positive event occurs. Doctors may refer to atypical depression as an atypical major depressive disorder.

How Does Depression Affect A Person?

Life changes, like the loss of a job or a spouse, can trigger major depression. If the person feels alone and sad, the symptoms may include crying spells, extreme negative mood swings, insomnia or lack of sleep, and irritability. Depression symptoms are sometimes confused with anxiety disorders, which can be a sign of depression. A depressed individual might also show signs of excessive worrying and extreme emotional distress, such as irritability and/or overeating.

Depression In Children

depression in children

Depression can strike at any age. The symptoms of depression experienced by children can get worse if they don’t receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment. When parents fail to get their kids the proper medical attention, the results can be severe. Children who experience depression are more likely to resort to self-harm or engage in aggressive behaviors, thus, they may turn to self-medication and other destructive behaviors to feel better.

Children who experience depression need treatment by qualified healthcare providers.

What To Do If Your Loved One Is Depressed?

Depression affects millions of people around the world. In many cases, depression can be treated with the right medications. In other cases, however, many people won’t respond to medications and other treatment options.

There are several ways to support a relative or friend with depression so they can live productive lives. Here are some things that you can do:

  1. Learn About Depression

There are plenty of reliable resources online that aim to educate about depression and helping others with the said disorder. Some symptoms of depression include persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, fatigue or sleepiness, irritability, trouble making decisions, a negative outlook on life, and trouble concentrating. However, not everyone will present the common symptoms, especially if they have smiling depression.

Try joining support groups for depressed people to learn more. Sometimes, they gather at your local gym, church, community center, or other places where people with similar problems meet regularly.

  1. TLW 283x305Learn To Listen

It’s often difficult for a loved one who’s depressed to express their feelings and needs. They may feel embarrassed to seek support from loved ones and healthcare professionals.

Remember that listening and being compassionate are more important than trying to solve a problem because:

  • It shows empathy: Listen to them when they express their feelings. It’s difficult to do this when someone is self-destructive and refuses to talk to you about anything. Even if they don’t admit to having problems, asking questions, such as what they’re doing when they’re depressed, will help you identify the problem.
  • It acknowledges the problem: Let them know that you understand depression is real and it can affect people mentally and physically. Find ways to listen to what they’re saying, and acknowledge their feelings and thoughts.
  1. Give Them Activities

Many depressed individuals turn to alcohol, drugs, or gambling to numb their feelings. This can be dangerous and, ultimately, deadly. Try to offer simple activities, such as walking, gardening, playing games with them, cooking for them, or playing music. The point is to keep them occupied and busy. However, you should also let them have some quiet time. This will help them focus on positive thoughts.

  1. Help Them Find Support

If you know someone who’s suffering from depression, then you probably want to help them find the help they need. You can do so through the following ways:

  • If they’re worried that they’re losing control, suggest that they visit a therapist or support group.
  • Another option is to offer your companionship when they visit a doctor to consult the symptoms that have been bothering them.
  • Join or start a group to give your support to someone who needs it.
  1. Ask To Help Around

People who are depressed are inflicted with mental and emotional troubles that manifest physically. It’s not unusual for someone who’s depressed to feel sluggish or tired all the time.

If you think you can, you should ask to help around the house, which not only makes work lighter for them, but it also shows them that someone genuinely cares. You may need to take over some of the heavy responsibilities for a loved one while they’re undergoing treatment for depression.

However, do remember to care for yourself, too, when looking after a depressed loved one. Negative thoughts can easily flow from one person to another, so make sure to get plenty of rest as well. If a loved one is verbally abusive or threatens you physically, it’s best to call for medical help to keep yourself and your loved safe from danger.

  1. Seek Medical Help

seek medical help

One important step to take when trying to help someone with depression is to realize that depression is a disease, and that treatment is available. Unfortunately, many depressed people don’t seek treatment, which is a huge mistake. The cost of not seeking treatment is much higher than seeking treatment and getting the help that they need.

If you believe a loved one is showing symptoms of depression, but you don’t know why, it’s a good idea to seek a physician’s help. They can run tests and conduct interviews to discover what the root cause of the problem is. In most cases, depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. This imbalance causes the neurotransmitters to act in a way that’s not normal. This imbalance often causes feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities.

Common treatments for mood disorders include talk therapy and medications. Prescription medications are available for severe cases of depression, but there should be a proper diagnosis of a specialist first before using any of those. Treatments for depression don’t require the person being treated to stop their normal, day-to-day activities. Most treatments require patients to make changes in their lifestyle for several weeks or months to achieve optimum results.

Finding the right treatment combination is important when helping a loved one with depression due to the following reasons:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is most effective when combined with treatments for both depression and anxiety. CBT is sometimes referred to as anti-depressant therapy and focuses on the patient’s negative thoughts and behaviors. Because depression is related to an individual’s negative behaviors and thoughts, CBT teaches the patient to challenge those thoughts and to replace them with realistic, positive thoughts. This is done through systematic training, but the underlying principles are the same.
  • There are many options, including prescription medications, over-the-counter products, therapies (talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and individual or group therapy), natural remedies, and self-help programs. Before seeking treatment, you should learn more about your depression and seek the advice of your doctor or mental health professional. Treatments for depression can take as long as six months to be effective, so be patient for the sake of your loved one.


Many people feel down, hopeless, anxious, or guilty, which are common symptoms of depressive disorders. Unfortunately, far too many individuals who are suffering from depression get diagnosed and treated only after the disorder has gotten worse. If a loved one shows symptoms of depression, understanding the cause is the first step towards treating it. If depression is treated early and properly, it can be overcome and one can start living a healthy life again in no time.

There’s no single known method to help individuals recover from clinical depression quickly. The good news, however, is that there’s an extensive array of treatments, including medication, therapy, and self-help programs. As such, helping a loved one with depression doesn’t have to be a difficult task if the right steps are taken.

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