Symptoms associated with depression include difficulty concentrating and making decisions, constant fatigue, insomnia or over-sleeping, overeating or loss of appetite, irritability, feelings of hopelessness, persistent feelings of sadness or anxiety, loss of interest in previous hobbies and thoughts of suicide.
It is important to note that depression is a persistent pattern of thinking. It is not a matter of somebody “having a bad day” and it is not something that people can just snap out of. Someone who exhibits the symptoms must be taken very seriously.
Currently, medical professionals are unsure of what truly causes someone to become depressed. It has been theorised that there is no single reason for depression and that it is a combination of many elements including genetics, one’s biochemical environment, personal experience, and other psychological factors that lead you to become depressed.
Life events and activities such as drug abuse, high levels of debt, seasonal changes, failed relationships, hormonal changes, stress or the death of a loved one have been described as triggers of depression. In some cases, there is no known trigger. It is important to know that depression is a serious illness and does not show weakness in an individual. A person with depression is not to blame for experiencing these feelings, nor is this person to blame in any way.
When you are depressed, it may be very difficult to change your pattern of thinking, but there are steps that can be taken to remedy this. HelpGuide.org has created a list of actions that can be taken to help reduce depression and the risk thereof. Actions on this list include creating a base of supportive relationships of both friends and family, attempting to break negative cycles of thinking with more balanced and optimistic cycles, and engaging in a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise. Apart from these suggestions, there is a wide variety of medicine available that may be prescribed to you by a licensed psychiatrist. You can also see a psychologist who will be able to help you through your battle with depression. Even though most medical aids cover mental health related costs, finances may still prove to be very problematic. In this case, there are many free helplines and government clinic psychologists at your service.
If you know someone who is suffering from depression, it is important to support them in the appropriate way. Instead of taking a harsh and confrontational approach, rather act in a gentle and kind manner.
MayoClinic.org suggests that you familiarise yourself with the symptoms of depression. Secondly, encourage treatment. People with depression may not know that they are depressed, or they might be too scared or ashamed to consult a professional. Talk to the person and express your concern. Tell the person that it is a legitimate medical condition and not any flaw on their part and that it usually gets better with treatment. Suggest that the person consult a professional and help them to set up an appointment, going with them and helping them prepare a list of issues to discuss in the initial appointment. Do not be overbearing and remember to respect their privacy. It is important to identify warning signs of worsening depression and act on these signs.
There is always help available to people who suffer from depression, be it from family, friends, colleagues and professional mental health experts, so thoughts of suicide can be prevented. Even if you feel that they won’t make a difference, you must try all of the options.
Photo: Eddie Mafa