Depression: What is it? & What not to say or do to someone who has it!
This simple animation tells some of the hardships of those with depression. Some people may say, “so what”, “suck it up”, or “think positive”. What some of these people need to know is it’s more then a mood. It’s when the depression sticks with you for weeks without any relief and it interferes with your everyday life, some times in almost all aspects of life, and that mood becomes a temperament or apart of your personality if it stays long enough.
The Canadian Mental Health Association states that one in four women and one in ten man may develop signs of depression. Some may not even know, or realize they have depression. Since there is really no single cause of depression its some times hard to realize that we may have it.
Depression is not cause by someone being weak and is not a character flaw. We all cope with life in different ways and have all learned different coping strategies that may or may not work.
A number of things from your physical environment, seasons/ time of year, life events and possible genetic inheritance can cause depression. Other times we may not even know what causes our depression.
Here are some signs and symptoms to look for:
- A change in appetite that may bring weight change (gain or loss)
- Problems sleeping or waking up
- A loss of joy in the activities they have once enjoyed
- Constant fatigue
- Feeling of worthlessness and guilt
- Headaches and stomachaches.
- Withdrawal from people
- Thoughts of suicide or death
The great news about depression is that it can be treated. Depression can be treated with a combination of psychotherapy (counseling), medications and life style changes. If some of these don’t work electro convulsive therapy has also been used with great success.
Please try our challenges and strategies that we post along side your therapists recommendations to help speed the healing process.
Supporting someone with depression:
- Help the person get, or stay in treatment
- Support and encourage the person
- Learn about depression
- Be aware of the stigmatism behind these disorders including your own.
- Be aware of other health problems the person may have
- Help and encourage good health habits (like exercise)
- Find your own support, sometimes helping someone with depression can also be emotionally draining.
What not to do / Say:
“I know how you feel”
You may be able to relate but you haven’t been through the same experience. Instead empathize with the person and talk about how you relate, but don’t pretend you can get in their head because… you can’t unless you’re telepathic…
"This is god’s plan”
What if they don’t believe in god? This may make things more confusing and worse. What if the person responds, why does god want me to experience hell on earth? If you share a faith, remind them what brings them peace. Just don’t act like you have it all figured out, you can come off as a know it all or create other sorts of feelings.
“If you need anything give me a call”
This is just putting a burden on someone who already has enough burdens. Instead try calling them here and there and ask specific questions like: “I can come over and we can order pizza and watch a movie, would you like that?”. This way the person knows someone is there and caring and will feel less alone.
These people have problems with their brain chemistry and will have a really hard time thinking positively. Often I have seen people say, “Think Positive” and then just leave. Instead help them find reasons to be positive or find what they liked to do. Perhaps making realize that a warm shower can bring up their mood is a small and simple start.
Pretty much the worst thing you can say is well... nothing. Many people who experience depression say all of their well meaning friends leave them. Perhaps these friends are just uncomfortable or worried about saying the wrong thing. But saying nothing is one of the worst things.
Andrea Bonior, Ph.D. – Clinical Psychologist – Psychology Today
Canadian Mental Health Association
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. This information is simply used as a guide to help you make better life choices