Have you met any of your friends or family members recently and found sudden changes in their behaviour? Did they seem sad or drowned in thoughts?
Feeling down from time to time is a part of life, but if their emotions such as hopelessness or distress have grasped them, they might be suffering from depression.
Depression can change how a person thinks, feels, and functions in their daily activities. It can disrupt their sleep, eating habits and demolish their desire to do anything in life. They might find trying to get through the day overwhelming.
If anyone around you is suffering from depression, let them know that they are not alone. You can take the responsibility to pacify them, listen to them and help them come out of their miserable condition.
This guide can help you to understand what is depression, what are its symptoms and how to motivate a depressed person. So do give it a read!
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Depression is a type of medical illness for which a person experiences sadness and loses interest in the activities they once enjoyed. Depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function properly.
How to know whether a person is depressed or not? Here are some common symptoms of depression that might help you to identify a depressed person-
1. Loss of interest in daily activities: You do not feel like doing anything; you no longer find interest in your former hobbies or pastimes. You have lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
2. Feeling helpless and losing hope: A feeling that nothing will ever get better and there is nothing you can do to improve your situation.
3. Changes in appetite or weight loss: Significant weight loss or weight gain due to eating less or too much.
4. Change in sleep cycle: You either suffer from insomnia or oversleeping.
5. Anger issues: Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
6. Loss of energy: Feeling fatigued and physically drained. You feel exhausted all the time.
7. Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You cannot forgive yourself and harshly criticise yourself for the mistakes.
8. Concentration problems: You have trouble focusing or remembering things.
9. Unexplained aches and pains: Increased physical complaints such as headaches, back pain and stomach pain.
10. Thoughts of suicide: You cannot accept yourself and often think of committing suicide.
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A combination of factors can result in depression rather than one single cause. For example, if you were diagnosed with a severe medical condition or lost your job, the stress could prompt you to insomnia, overeating or loss of appetite. These factors combined can then trigger depression.
The following are examples of risk factors that can make a depressed person more susceptible:
Loneliness and isolation: Lack of social support, withdrawal from friends and family, loneliness can heighten the risk of depression. Having someone to talk to can help someone to avoid having to deal with their problems alone.
Relationship problems: While strong and supportive relationships are crucial to good mental health, troubled, unhappy, or abusive relationships can increase the possibility of depression.
Bitter life experiences: Major life changes, such as divorce, unemployment, or financial problems, can often bring overwhelming levels of stress for which someone might develop depression.
Chronic illness or pain: Being diagnosed with a severe illness, such as heart disease or diabetes, can trigger feelings of hopelessness.
Family history of depression: It is likely for some people to have a genetic susceptibility to the problem. However, that does not mean just because a close relative suffered from depression, everyone from the family will suffer too. A person’s lifestyle choices, coping skills would matter while having this mood disorder.
Personality Traits: Someone’s personality traits, whether inherited from parents or the result of their life experiences, can impact their risk of depression. For example, if a person has the tendency to think negatively, is a pessimist or suffers from low self-esteem, there remains a chance of depression.
Childhood trauma or abuse: Early childhood trauma, abuse, or bullying can make a person more susceptible to various health conditions, including depression.
Alcohol or drug abuse: Many people use alcohol or drugs as a means to cope with stress or difficult emotions. If they are already at risk, abusing alcohol or drugs may push them over the edge.
While people suffering from depression may not be willing to go for treatment or cooperate during the treatment. It can become a serious health condition if their issues are left untreated. Before reaching out to a therapist, you can try to interact with the depressed person and help them share how they feel. Your words and acts of kindness might help them feel better.
Some of the ways to motivate a depressed person are mentioned below, which can be helpful for you.
The first thing you can do before helping someone with depression is learning more about the illness. If you have never suffered from depression, it can be difficult for you to understand what a depressed person might be going through. So, do some research about depression and then you will be much better equipped to offer your friend help and support.
It can be challenging for a depressed person to open up to anyone. They might feel isolated or have trust issues. Let the depressed person know that you are there for them. Encourage them to share what they feel but do not give them any advice immediately. Your support is the most important thing that you have to offer initially.
While listening to the depressed person, validate their feelings and show empathy. Make them believe that you are interested in listening to them through your body language.
Try to acknowledge that a depressed person might be going through a lot and what is happening must be difficult for them to handle. So it is not possible for them to cheer up or just forget about it. When you are talking to a depressed person, be compassionate and do not take their issues lightly.
A depressed person might not be aware that he/she is dealing with depression. Even if they are aware, it might be daunting for them to look for support. You can encourage them to visit a therapist and help them to make an appointment. If possible, accompany them.
A depressed person often withdraws themself from any kind of social gathering. They confine themselves in a room and do not feel like socialising. As a friend or family, you can help them to re-engage by inviting them to social events. This will assure them that they are not forgotten. But, remember, you shouldn’t be forcing them; rather, encourage them.
Do not try to advise a depressed person on how to cure their illness. Leave the treatment of the illness to the professionals. The most important thing that you can do is assure the depressed person that you will be there whenever they need you.
It can be challenging dealing with someone who has depression. The person might be cranky, have mood swings and behave inappropriately. There may be times when you would rather think of walking away and getting on with your own life. Try to be patient. Do not desert the person who needs your help the most. Your kindness might have a positive influence on them.
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If you feel that the person you are trying to help may harm themself, seek help from a trusted adult or emergency mental health service immediately. The person might hate you for intervening and might not be willing to take help, but, eventually, they will thank you when they are completely cured.
Sometimes it is hard to speak to someone with depression. You might fear that if you try to interact, the person will get angry, feel agitated or insulted. You may be unsure how to start the conversation, what questions to ask or how to be supportive.
While trying to help a depressed person, remember that being a compassionate listener is more important than giving advice. You do not have to work towards fixing your depressed friend or family member; all you need to do is listen patiently and see things fall into place.
Most often, the simple act of talking face to face becomes an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about their feelings and listen to that person without judgment.
A single conversation with a depressed person won’t be enough to help them. Depressed people tend to isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen to them over and over again. Try to be gentle and persistent while doing this.
Depression, if not treated, can have an adverse effect on the mind and soul. If someone is suffering from depression, they should be supported in their journey to deal with this illness. Let them know that the way they are viewing their situations is not the reality; it’s just their negative thoughts and their perception of life. If you are trying to help someone with depression, deal with them by having patience and perseverance.