7 Things to Remember if a Loved One is
Suffering from Depression
Everyone has experienced losing a loved one. However, even in situations where the death of a loved one is expected, nothing prepares you for the extreme sadness and helplessness that come from losing someone you cherish so much.
Breaking up with a partner, losing a job, or failing a business venture can also give you the same feeling of sadness and helplessness.
Everyone needs to understand that it is perfectly normal to be sad during these hard times. However, when extreme sadness, alongside the feelings of despair and hopelessness, continues for months and keeps you from going on with your life normally, you may be suffering from depression.
Depression is a complex but common mood disorder. Its exact cause is not clear to anyone; however, it can occur due to various reasons. It is estimated that more than 300 million people all over the world suffer from depression. With the big number noted, chances are, you have already interacted with someone dealing with this disorder. There's also a possibility that the people you least expect, those who are very dear to you, are the ones struggling to fight this excruciating battle of depression.
You can tell if a person is suffering from depression when you notice these following common signs and symptoms:
- An overwhelming feeling of fatigue or lack of energy
- Sleep problems (insomnia or oversleeping)
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness
- Significant weight gain or weight loss
- Difficulty in remembering things, making decisions, and focusing
- Irritability, anger, or reckless behavior
- Loss of interest in doing daily activities, especially those things that were once enjoyable
- Suicidal attempts or thoughts
It may seem frightening at first, but with proper knowledge about the illness and know-how of dealing with it, you and your loved ones will have a smooth journey in escaping the walls of depression.
That said, here are seven things you should keep in mind when a loved one is dealing with depression:
1. It is NOT their choice to be depressed
Depression is an illness, NOT something someone chose to have. They are not intentionally making themselves sad, empty, or helpless. These ill feelings are viciously seizing their well-being – and they have no control over it.
2. They are not weak, broken, or abnormal
The symptoms of depression are all normal parts of being human. We all experience being sad, irritable, worthless, and helpless at some points in our lives. The only difference with depressed people is that these feelings are extremely intensified and the duration is longer than normal.
3. Their everyday motivation is damaged
The human brain produces dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the chemicals that are responsible for making someone motivated. However, those suffering from depression have low levels of these hormones, making them less motivated in doing everyday physical activities.
“It's not good to tell a depressed person that they just need to go out, mingle with others, or play games to shake off that feeling. Lack of motivation is something that they can’t control. Those pieces of advice will only create tension within them. Giving them a tight hug or just sitting beside them are better ways to give them the motivation that they need,” says Dr Mark S, a mental health expert at Doctorspring.
4. They don't want to be alone at all times, and they want you to reach out to them
It is a common assumption that depressed people always want to be alone. Yes, this seems to be true at times; however, they don't want the feeling of being trapped in the darkness alone all the time. They want the assurance that someone is with them in finding the way out of the darkness.
So, every now and then, ask them if they want to go out and grab a bite or just stroll around the park or maybe visit a friend. Make your presence felt all the time.
5. It's ok for you to get frustrated, tired, and angry
The thought of your loved one being in despair and lost makes us miserable as well. Aside from emotional distress, our physical bodies can also take a toll. At one point, you might feel that you're in a battle zone too.
That said, it's perfectly normal to get frustrated. You are allowed to get angry. Distance yourself and take a breather. At the end of the day, just don't forget that you and your loved ones are not enemies here. Both of you are fighting the same foe which is depression.
6. They don't want the feeling of being a burden
Depressed people oftentimes think that they are a burden to people around them so they distance themselves. They tend to push away people, thinking that their sadness holds up the lives of the people who are trying to help. But you should know better. You have to let them know that being with them is no burden at all. You should be their cheerleader every step of the way.
7. They are fighting hard too
You might see them isolated in one place, seemingly not caring about anything at all, but in reality, they are fighting hard too. For them, it feels like they are trapped in an unending tunnel, surrounded by total darkness. They are unsure which way to go to find the way out. So, during these difficult times, be their light, no matter how dim it is.
It is important to keep in mind that depression is not something to be ashamed of. It is always okay to ask for help. If you think you are experiencing depression and have suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. A trained counselor is ready to give you support and assistance.