How do I know if a friend of loved one is experiencing depression?

Each person experiences depression differently. Depression generally comes in episodes and the same person will usually experience it similarly with each episode. Symptoms almost always include these three symptoms:

  • Loss of interest in regular tasks.
  • Feelings of sadness.
  • Mood swings.

Other symptoms may include a combination of any of the following:

  • Feelings of despair and doubt.
  • Feelings of unimportance
  • Guilt
  • Impatience and unpredictability.
  • An increase or decrease in weight from desire or lack of desire for eating.
  • Thoughts of suicide.
  • Irregularity in sleeping which may include sleeping too much or being too wrestless sleep for long periods of time.
  • Loss of energy and lack of will.
  • Difficulty or inability to concentrate, focus or to make a decision.

How do I know when a depressed person needs professional help?

A depressed person needs professional help if the person:

  • is thinking of suicide
  • is experiencing severe mood changes
  • is thinking depression is connected to other problems needing professional help
  • does not feel in control of his/her life
  • feels overwhelmed, troubled, anxious, dejected, or out of control
  • is not able to resist harmful behavior such as addiction
  • is experiencing chest pain

How can family and friends help a depressed person?

There are actually three important ways in which you can help a depressed person, but these must be done with kindness and consideration in order to avoid making things worse.

  1. Help the depressed person find a suitable treatment for depression. This may include encouraging the person to continue with treatment until the signs of depression start to subside. You can also help the person by finding another treatment if there is no progress is being made.
  2. Offer emotional support. This includes being considerate, calm, and loving. Involve the depressed person in a conversation and listen to him/her attentively. Do not down play any of your impressions about suicidal tendencies. If possible, consult with the depressed person’s physician yourself. Be tenderly persistent if your request is rejected. Persuade him/her to join in some activities that will give pleasure.
  3. Do not accuse the depressed person of being lazy or faking illness, and do not just wait for them to “snap out of it.” In time, with healing, most depressed people do get well again. Remember, and keep comforting the depressed person with the knowledge that, with time and appropriate treatment, he or she will feel better.

Where do you go for help with depression?

If you are concerned and think a friend or loved one may be experiencing depression, you can get help for them. Depression is not uncommon. In fact, anyone can experience depression. Try to get your friend or family member to talk about what they are experiencing. If you feel that the problem is beyond your ability to help, try to get them to consult a counselor or a physician. You may also choose to go to the nearest mental health center and talk to a specialist on depression. Depending on your relationship, you may want to go with them. You may find that the person doesn’t feel anything is wrong with them and doesn’t feel the need to see a doctor.