How to Help a Friend With Depression?

Depression can affect anyone regardless of age, race, sex or gender. Billions of people around the world suffer from it. If left untreated it can be extremely dangerous. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is estimated that in the United States alone, one in ten adults suffer from a form of depression. It is important that intervention occurs in cases of severe depression.

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Signs and Symptoms of Depression

There are several signs and symptoms of depression. A person suffering from depression may have a sudden loss of interest in activities such as work, hobbies, sports, and even sex. They might also begin to withdraw from activities that involve family, friends or other social activities. Sleep disorders could become a problem as well, such as insomnia or oversleeping. Some even turn to negative habits such as the consumption of drugs and alcohol. This is a form of escaping from the ongoing pain they feel.

Reaching Out to a Depressed Friend

Speaking to a depressed friend can be difficult. Many friends and family are unsure of what steps to take that will positively help their loved ones. It is important to listen and encourage a person that is depressed but not be overly optimistic to the point of triteness. Being wholeheartedly interested and invested in your loved one’s health is absolutely necessary.

Remember to:

● Providing full emotional support, positivity, and love is a great way to help someone you care about get through their feelings of depression.

● Be Caring: Providing a caring outlook and attitude will translate to a depressed person that you can be trusted.

● Give Love: A sense of love and understanding can go a long way when trying to assist someone on the road to recovery.

What Not to Do

Statements like “the situation will get better” or “life is still worth living” are not going alleviate pain, or change the situation for the better.

When dealing with a friend or family member that is suffering from depression, often times they don’t want to talk about it. It’s important not to press them on the issue. Like any other disease, it’s personal, it’s private, and they may rather just discuss it with their physician or psychiatrist.

Don’t push them to take their medication either. A nudge here and there is a good idea if you see that they are resisting, however, most of the time, anyone dealing with depression wants to know that they are still viewed as independent. While it can be a debilitating disease, they want to know that they’ve retained their independence.

Recovering from depression takes the desire to do so. So, unfortunately, no matter how much you love this person, they have to want to get better, you can’t force them. The most you can do is offer your love and support to the extent they allow you to.

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Seeking Medical Care

It is important to understand that depression is a serious medical condition, therefore it is recommended to seek the professional help of a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Helping a friend find a medical professional that is trained in how to handle the situation and the disease is important. Especially if they begin making statements of harming themselves, comments like these should be taken very seriously. There are several different prescription medications that a doctor can prescribe to help alleviate the pain associated with depression.

Many of these medications do not provide instant relief though because depression represents a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medications like Prozac require the medication to build up within the body to balance out dopamine production, for example, therefore it is important the medication be taken as prescribed by the doctor.

Normally when someone seeks medical attention for depression, it will be recommended to speak to a counselor. This is someone impartial to the situation that will help them to talk through the issues they feel are causing the feelings of depression.

Alternative Methods

There are many different exercise techniques that can also help alleviate the pain that is caused by depression. Exercises such as cardio, and yoga cause the body to release chemicals called endorphins. The endorphins interact with the receptors in the brain and send a signal to the body that its pain has been reduced.

Many people also welcome the idea of alternative therapies or supplements to avoid traditional prescription medications that can cause complications or have adverse side-effects. There are a number of medications that are habit forming so anyone needing to take on a prescription should consult with their doctor about all the options available.

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Being informed of your friend’s take on the causes and treatments available for depression is a great way to show support. Always take their feelings into consideration and make sure you respect the boundaries they set. Give only as much help as they let you. They’ll thank you for it in the future.

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