Whether you have struggled with depression yourself, or have tried to help someone with depression, you have likely been touched in some way by this mental illness. And while millions of people suffer from depression, it tends to be a misunderstood diagnosis.
What is Depression?
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States today. Depression is more than just feeling sad, upset, or unmotivated. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by a prolonged period of experiencing intense feelings of sadness and/or hopelessness that affects one’s ability to carry out everyday activities.
Symptoms of Depression
Being depressed has been described by many people as feeling of carrying a heavy burden or being “weighed down” by something. Of course, depression symptoms vary from person to person. Nonetheless, some symptoms of depression are hugely common, regardless of who the sufferer is.
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.’
- Changes in appetite or weight. Depression can often be accompanied by changes appetite and/or eating habits. Some people turn to food for comfort in their depression, while others report losing their appetite altogether.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping.
- Energy loss. Feeling lethargic, fatigued, or physically drained is a common side effect of depression. This often makes even small tasks seem exhausting more difficult to complete.
- Irritability. Feelings of anger, agitation, and restlessness often show up when depression is present.
- Engaging in reckless behavior. Reckless behavior can look many ways including substance use, reckless driving, unsafe sex, or compulsive gambling.
- Difficulty concentrating. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
- Aches and pains. Many people with depression experience physical complaints such as back pain, headaches, muscle aches, and stomach pain.
How to Help Someone with Depression
Identifying how to help someone with depression can feel overwhelming, especially if you have not dealt with depression yourself. Yet, it isn’t as complicated as it may seem. If you have a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with, or is showing signs of depression, there are simple ways you can support them.
- Know you cannot “fix” the person or force them to get professional help.
- Show compassion through listening.
- Take care of yourself – in order to help others, you must help yourself first. This means taking care of your own mental health and seeking the support you need.
- Educate yourself – learning about depression and the ways it can affect a person’s overall health and well-being is a great start to understanding how to help someone with depression.
To find out more about depression or the mental health services provided at HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York, contact us at (518) 218-1188.