What is Depression?
According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, depression is a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way. Another definition of depression according to this link https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression is it’s a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.
Nowadays, suicide cases have suddenly increased in an alarming number. This caused both intrigue and worries to people. Since depression can strike or can be triggered any time, what are we supposed to do? Well for starters, this requires an open mind because depression isn’t something that you have on a whim. It is a SERIOUS MEDICAL ILLNESS.
How Do We Know If a Person is Depressed?
This appears to be a good question. How do we know exactly if a person is indeed depressed? All of us have somehow experienced low times in our lives. We have all these emotions like sadness, despair, disappointments, loneliness and melancholy. How are these any different from depression?
Here is what we need to know. It’s hard to love someone who is depressed and it’s not easy to be depressed either. Therefore, we strive to help them and hopefully get out of that dark place. Since it is a mental illness, it’s not just something that a person can get over with after watching motivational videos or after waking up from sleep. It is absolutely different from feeling sad or having a bad day.
Depression varies from person to person. Common symptoms include self-loathing, weight changes, sleep changes, loss of energy, anger and irritability, concentration problems and reckless behavior. However, there is really no way of knowing exactly if a person is depressed or not. Let us always check our loved ones and friends even if they look happy or always smiling. If we see some major change in their behavior, let us find time to check on them but not in a prying and accusing way.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is complicated and it is not just a result of some imbalance in chemicals in our brains. Sometimes, it can be caused by trauma or other things in life. Sometimes, it’s not. It can also be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. These would mean, your lifestyle choices, your outlook in life, your coping mechanisms could contribute to your depression. Therefore, let us prioritize our mental health. Let us always pause and meditate. Let us find time to do some evaluation on our feelings and process them properly.
How to Deal with a Person with Depression?
In our attempt to help people with depression, we do things that we think are helpful but actually aren’t. There is this need to lift their spirit but would actually push them away and fall deeper into their depression. So how do we deal with a person with depression?
Usually we say things like, “You just need to go out and have fun.” “You need to look at the bright side.” “You need to trust God.” The thing is these words are not wrong. I know we mean well and our intentions are pure but to someone who is experiencing depression, these words mean so little. If we push them to see the brighter side, if we force them to be positive, they would think that we are judging them. That they are a failure because they can’t feel the same way. We don’t know exactly what they are thinking or how their minds work so sometimes, they don’t need words. They just need us to listen without prejudice and be there for them. Our mere presence would help.
1. DO NOT INVALIDATE THEIR FEELINGS.
Help them process and go through with it. Be there every step of the way. Do not BLAME them. It won’t help at all. Instead of “Be positive.” We can say “I believe in you.” “I love you.” “I am proud of you.” These would be more meaningful. We also have to say them honestly and genuinely because they would detect our pretense. They would know that we are telling them those things for the sake of telling them.
2. DO NOT GIVE ADVICE.
I think it is a human thing. We offer unsolicited advice. I know it comes from a place of love and concern but it’s not helpful. They wouldn’t feel good about having taught on what to do and what not to do. Most of the time, they would push the people around them away not because they want to but because they don’t want to put overwhelming stuff to us.
3. DO NOT FEEL THE NEED TO FIX THEM BECAUSE WE CAN’T.
As much as we want to help them, we also must be able to tell them honestly the things that we can do to support them. Let us not stop reaffirming and reminding them that we would be there for them. That we are not going away. Because depression will tell them that nobody will stay and that everybody will eventually leave them. It is a challenge to be a supporter because it is draining and exhausting. Let us rather be supporters and not “fixers”.
Before I leave you to your thoughts and do some introspection, let me tell you this:
Do not ever be fooled with smiling faces. You might not know how many masks they’re wearing every single day.
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