Seeing a loved one suffer with depression is not an easy sight and at times can cause YOU to feel hopeless. For some individuals, depression can be debilitating and painful, making even the thought of getting help seem impossible. Trying to help someone who is depressed can be exhausting and met with many barriers. Arming yourself with knowledge, however, may help make the process easier. Below are a few suggestions of things to consider if you are trying to help someone you know.
Learn about Depression - there are many misconceptions about depression. Believing a person is lazy, weak and/or not interested in getting better are a few perceptions that individuals may have. Depression, is in fact, a common disorder that can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. Generally speaking, interventions like medications, psychotherapy, and social support are needed in order to help alleviate symptoms.
Avoid Judgment - aside from understanding what depression is, it is also important to avoid judging your loved one. Being judgmental may cause your loved one to disregard what you are saying, especially if he/she is in denial of their symptoms. Being supportive by educating them about symptoms, options and resources can help provide the support they need and hopefully allow them to get some help.
Take Suicidal Talk Seriously - if your loved one has thoughts of hurting himself/herself it is important to contact his/her doctor right away or contact 911 if warranted. If they have not mentioned suicidal thoughts, be sure ask him/her directly so as to rule out the possibility. While some individuals may see this topic at taboo, it is crucial to know if these thoughts are floating around your loved one's head so that you can ensure treatment with the proper healthcare professional is obtained immediately.
Research Resources - knowing what types of assistance are available can help convince your loved one to reach out for help. Resources like local support groups, reading materials, online websites, etc., can help alleviate the feeling of isolation your loved one may be experiencing. Have this information handy when talking with him/her so that it will be immediately available when he/she needs it. Also consider including contact information for the National Suicide Hotline. This can be especially beneficial if your loved one is too ashamed to tell you the truth about his/her thoughts.
Aside from those listed above and those in the comments, what else should be included in this brief list of suggestions? Please share your thoughts below.
December is a time of year that many individuals look forward to because of the holidays. Whether it is celebrating traditions, being around family and friends, or shorter work weeks - for the most part people enjoy this month. And while for many, this time of season is considered festive, fun and cheerful for others it can also be anxiety-provoking, depressing and emotionally exhausting.
Feelings of Anxiety - Holidays often equate to engaging in family-oriented gatherings. Factors like family dynamics can result in increased anxiety for some individuals. Worrying about mom's approval of a new boyfriend/girlfriend, wondering whether dad will continue to express his disappointment in your career choice, or stressing about your sibling(s) willingness to understand how much help you really need with caring for your parents, are a few examples of situations that can provoke anxiety thereby causing a person to dread the holiday season.
Feelings of Depression - This time of year can also be depressing for individuals who lack familial support, are not involved in a significant relationship or are going through a life-hardship that prevents them from celebrating the season as they normally would. And while they may choose to not celebrate, commercial advertisements and/or innocent questions like, "What are you doing for the holiday?" or "Have you finished shopping yet?" etc., can serve as a reminder of what they don't have thus causing a negative association with the holiday.
Feeling Emotionally Exhausted - Last but not least, emotional exhaustion is a common feeling many individuals experience during this time of year. Sometimes the mere thought of all the planning, traveling and socializing a person will have to do to prepare is enough to bring about a cloud of gloom. In other cases, memory of last year's disorder, dysfunction or drama can serve as a blockade to feeling cheerful about the holiday.
With all of that said, it is important to be aware of your feelings during this time of year and to not let it get the best of you and your ability to enjoy it or to function. Talking with friends and family you trust and/or with a therapist about your feelings can help you get to the bottom of what you are experiencing, learn ways to resolve it and hopefully make next year's holiday season a more cheerful one.
Do you tend to experience any of the above when the holiday season approaches? If so, how do you deal with it? Please share your thoughts below.
Christine M. Valentín
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