We have all felt fed up, sad and miserable. But what happens when these feelings don’t go away for weeks or months on end? What happens when these feelings-
Start to interfere with our lives?
Start to impact on the way we do things?
Stops us enjoying the things we usually enjoy?
Starts interfering with the decisions we make?
Impact on our ability to carry out even the simplest of everyday tasks such as eating, washing or even just getting out of bed?
Sometimes there’s a reason for feeling like this (a trigger) and other times there’s not - and you just can’t explain why you feel like you do. You may not even realise you are depressed; struggling to talk yourself out of feeling down, frustrated, weak or tired. It may be that the physical side of depression (headaches, sleeplessness, and other physical pains) are what triggers you to question what is going on. It could even be the suicidal thoughts that make you feel something is not right, or it could be that family and friends have noticed there’s a difference in you and have expressed concerns.
Depression can affect anyone and everyone - it doesn’t care about how old you are, where you are from, or even how much money you have. Having a better understanding of what depression is, how it can be treated and what we can do to prevent it, will help us to diminish the stigma associated with mental health issues.
Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds- a frightening statistic from The World Health Organisation. So, what can we do to help someone who is depressed?
1. Listen- have patience- you may have to listen to the same thing over and over again, you may even want to offer advice especially if the answer seems so obvious to you. Listen- it may have taken a lot for them just to explain the feelings they are feeling.
2. Spend time with them- encourage them to keep going on with the things they would usually do. They may be feeling that there is no point, and they will never feel that they can feel normal again, this is when you reassure them- you may have to tell them over and over again- but keep reassuring, supporting and encouraging.
3. Take any threat of self-harm or suicidal thoughts seriously. They will generally feel this is the best for them and everyone else around them. Encourage them to see their doctor.
4. Ensure they are eating, an easy enjoyable task for the majority of us, but for someone feeling depressed, taking care of themselves is not seen as priority, may even be thought of as pointless. With emotional pain being front and centre, physical health and wellbeing is very rarely considered to be important.
Take it step by step, encourage them to accept help, keep supporting and listening and most importantly do not give up.
It's time to change how we all think about mental health issues. Continuing to go down the same path when it comes to understanding and responding to mental health is no longer an option.
One of the major barriers to accepting mental health care is the social stigma associated to conditions such as depression and anxiety. We all need to do more to knock down those walls of stigma and discrimination.
We have to do better.