Depression is a life-changing illness which can be treated, which can be managed, yet can also be very hard to initially live with. Standing as a mental health condition, depression is a painful, fearful and daunting illness to experience, for those with a diagnosis, and even for those around them.
If you’re witnessing a loved one suffer through difficult times, through low moods, through great sadness and through a change in mental health, it can be draining, it can be worrying and it can be unnerving. There’s a strong chance that you’ll hope to support them, yet also fear that you’ll aggravate their symptoms, or even worse, damage your relationship.
However, sitting back and watching depression intensify can be highly dangerous. Depression will not disappear as a condition. It can in fact aggravate to influence additional health problems, emotional breakdowns, and unhealthy coping strategies, causing a dual diagnosis.
At face value, the experiences of depression may seem personal, may seem hard to work through and may seem difficult to digest. Yet, inside, your loved one will be suffering, will be finding it hard to speak out, and will likely feel stigmatised.
Before acting, which you should, it’s time to consider the realism of depression, and whether your family member or friend is suffering alone. If you’re wondering ‘what are the signs a loved one is suffering with depression?’, here’s an overview, along with how you can support them.
Understanding depression as an illness
While depression is experienced by over 246 million people, it’s unfortunately a misinterpreted condition. Many onlookers believe that depression is formed through lazy, negative outlooks/emotions. Many believe that those with depression should be able to snap out of it. Depression has in fact been normalised to a point where the diagnosis is heavily thrown around.
Yet, through these misconceptions and stereotypes, people with depression are intensively suffering, through an uncontrollable mental health condition. Depression is experienced by those from varying walks of life, targeting people from all ages, backgrounds, cultures and genders.
It usually develops through significant emotional change, it can be influenced by pain, abuse, bereavement or illness, it can be passed on through genetics, can be promoted through certain medications or through substance abuse, and can also materialise for no given reason at all.
As an illness, depression is therefore highly complex to understand and experience, making it difficult to spot the signs and symptoms of depression. As experiences also fluctuate, it can be difficult to personally manage depression. Down to this, here’s why it’s important to source support, or priorities helping a loved one with depression.
What are the signs a loved one is suffering with depression?
The signs a loved one is suffering with depression aren’t set in stone. Symptoms of depression deviate from person to person, depending on emotional responses, lifestyle, support, and the initial causation. However, there are a range of common, physical and psychological signs of depression to look out for if you are worried about a loved one.
Physical signs of depression
- Physical signs of tiredness, agitation, weight gain or loss.
- A disinterest in normal life, such as hobbies, family time, career prospects or responsibilities.
- Heighted use of negative coping strategies, such as drinking, abusing drugs or gambling.
- A lack of energy, experiences of fatigue and insomnia.
- Hiding feelings or emotions.
Psychological signs of depression
- Feelings of anxiety commonly linked to worry and doubt.
- Reduced self-worth and awareness.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- Feelings of sadness, frustration and of low mood.
- A negative outlook on life.
- Consistent complaining.
If you’re wondering ‘what are the signs, a loved one is suffering with depression?’, above are some commonly noted signs and symptoms to consider. Yet before approaching your loved one about their feelings or behaviour, it is recommended to consider the severity of their depression, as racing ahead without evidence or full understanding of depression may damage your relationship/aggravate their experiences.
How to help a loved one with depression
Supporting a loved one with depression is the right thing to do. Yet it’s important that you approach them compassionately and supportively.
- You should avoid all judgment, showcasing your understanding of depression as an uncontrollable condition.
- You should show empathy and support, by deviating from the stigma around mental health issues.
- You should act as a listening ear, rather than someone who offers endless advice.
- You should remember that it’s likely you will initially be pushed back when approaching the topic of depression. You should be persistent, yet also avoid confrontational language or mannerisms.
- You should avoid the stereotype of depression.
- You should be patient and remember that it’s up to your loved one to open up about their struggles with depression.
- You should offer any form of support which will alleviate the symptoms of depression for your loved one.
- You should encourage the idea of professional support and treatment for depression.
- You should prepare what you’re planning to say in advance by considering things to say to a loved one with depression.
Approaching the idea of professional intervention
If you’ve managed to approach your loved one with your concerns linked to their mood and emotional state, the next step will be to approach the idea of professional intervention. Here’s where services like ours here at Asana Lodge can support you as a family, by providing a personal programme to work through the symptoms and caution of depression.
Unfortunately, depression is a mental health condition which does require treatment and management. Depression will not go away by itself and will not improve without activating positive steps and lifestyle choices, offered through forms of treatment.
While treatment may initially be disregarded, to truly support your loved one who’s suffering with depression it’s important to be patient, keep trying and even consider the idea of an intervention.
You can ease this time for your loved one, by understanding depression, by approaching the situation with caution, and by ultimately being there for them. For more information around ‘what are the signs a loved one is suffering with depression?’, or to activate a family intervention contact our team today.
Mental health issues shouldn’t be stigmatised. Help your loved one see the benefits of speaking out and considering support through depression.
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