WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression is a serious condition that negatively affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. In contrast to normal sadness.
Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression.
Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder.
Clinical depression is persistent, often interferes with a person’s ability to experience or anticipate pleasure, and significantly interferes with functioning in daily life. Untreated, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years; and if inadequately treated, depression can lead to significant impairment, other health-related issues, and in rare cases, suicide.
HOW CAN ONE TELL THAT THEY ARE DEPRESSED?
- A sad mood most of the day, nearly every day for two weeks or more.
- Lack of interest or pleasure in activities that the person previously liked doing nearly every day.
- Changes in appetite that result in weight losses or gains that are not related to dieting.
- Changes in sleeping patterns.
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue.
- Restlessness or irritability.
- Feelings of anxiety.
- Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness.
- Inappropriate guilt.
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions.
Passive or active thoughts of death.
HOW DOES ONE GET A DIAGNOSIS?
There is a lot of information about depression on the internet and a number of self-diagnosis tests have sprang up.
It is however important to see a psychiatrist or a therapist if you suspect that what you are struggling with is depression.
A proper diagnosis is given and one is given the chance to acquire a treatment plan that will help them on their journey to healing. Like any ailment having the right support will make the journey easier.
ARE THERE TYPES OF DEPRESSION?
Yes they are different types of depression that people may experience. It is important to see a psychiatrist in order to get the right diagnosis but below is a list of the types.
- Major Depression.
- Persistent Depressive Disorder.
- Bipolar Disorder.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Psychotic Depression.
- Postpartum Depression.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- ‘Situational’ Depression.
HOW DO YOU SUPPORT SOMEONE WHO IS DEPRESSED?
- Actively listen to them when they choose to open up about what they are going through. Do not listen with the intent to give them a quick fix.
- Be compassionate towards them. Kindness and love are a whole healing language and people will respond better to them. Compassion goes as far as how you encourage them to seek treatment or carry out activities that might help with their healing journey.
- They are going through a really difficult time, and their behavior may seem erratic and unpredictable – it’s likely they’ll behave in ways which seem out of character to you. For example, they may be acting more irritable or reckless, and this kind of behavior is liable to be misunderstood by others who do not know what is really going on.
- Be patient with them. It is going to take time to figure out what tools work for them to get better. If you feel frustrated about the progress they are making, remember that they are more frustrated because they are experiencing this first hand.
- Encourage them to consistently seek help when the journey becomes overwhelming for them.
- Support them in the activities they normally find interest in. This might look like showing up to watch a game or drama that they are participating in, or doing the activity with them like painting, singing, etc. or simply sitting with them as they go through the storm.
- If someone has become a threat to themselves or others, sign then into a hospital immediately.
HOW CAN I TELL THAT I AM ANXIOUS AND WHAT CAN I DO TO STOP IT?
Anxiety is a normal and important human emotion. Anxiety helps us to identify and respond to danger in ‘fight or flight’ mode. If one came face to face with a lion in the wild, anxiety would be in charge of communicating their need to flee as opposed to trying to cuddle it.
Anxiety can also motivate to us face up to dealing with difficult challenges. The ‘right’ amount of anxiety can help us perform better and stimulate action and creativity e.g. it will help you prepare adequately for a job interview or it will help you hit your monthly targets. But there is another side to anxiety.
If your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are interfering with your life, you may have an anxiety disorder.
In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating.
This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse.
Below are some of the signs;
- increased heart rate
- rapid breathing
- trouble concentrating
- difficulty falling asleep
MY FRIEND IS DEALING WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS. HOW CAN I BE OF HELP?
- Listen to them without judgement.
- Encourage them to speak to a mental health specialist and provide a support system for them.
- Attend Self-help groups for people fighting with mental illness with them to encourage them.
- Reach out to a mental health professional. These are available at every regional hospital in the district or any other hospital within your outreach.
- If someone is having active suicidal thoughts, make sure all weapons are kept out of their reach. These include knives, razors etc.
- If they are on medication take charge of the pills and only give them what they are supposed to take at the right time.