Do you feel like shouting at the world but find extremely hard to utter even a single sound? Is there a constant vacuum of emotions? Do you often think of death or make plans of committing suicide? Then, my dear friend you are stricken by Depression. But there is nothing to worry about. It’s a state of mind where a person is sucked off from all the feelings that binds him to life and beings around him.
A person who suffers from a depressive episode has loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities consistently for at least a 2 week period. This mood must represent a change from the person’s normal mood; social, occupational, educational or other important functioning must also be negatively impaired by the change in mood.
Causes for Depression
Amazingly, scholars and scientists have failed to recognize the real cause of this state. It’s basically the outcome of psychological and social factors. As a tentative study, they stated these many reasons for the cause:
- Running in family blood
- Low confidence
- Medical illnesses such as stroke, a heart attack, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and hormonal disorders
One can identify the early symptoms, if observed precisely. It varies in different age groups and also according to gender.
A major depressive episode is also characterized by the presence of 5 or more of these symptoms:
- Depressed mood most of the time (e.g., feeling sad or empty) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful).
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all activities; even eating, sleeping, and other daily chores.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or increase in appetite.
- Insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
- Lethargy or retardation.
- Fatigue or loss of energy.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt without any obvious reasons.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
How to deal with the depressed souls?
Resorting to giving affirmations like, ‘All will be fine’, ‘This is how life is’, ‘Everything happens for a reason’, ‘Don’t think about it or come out of it’ and such motivating efforts made by you are of no use. Rather giving such statements will make them clingier. It’s very much important to understand that depression is also an illness just like diabetes or any fever like typhoid. One doesn’t get into it, so does not simply snap out of it. Just like every disease, it takes time to heal. and for that one has to be very patient with a patient.
How can you help as a care giver?
Depressed people cut themselves from their friends and family and push themselves to seclusion, being constantly sad and inconsolable. They may even yearn to cry but fail to do so. Being a care giver/well wisher, you can:
- Help them get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Encourage the individual to stay with treatment until symptoms begin to abate (several weeks).
- Give them the necessary emotional backing. Offering your emotional support means providing understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement. You need to be the rock in the person’s storm of depression.
- Engage the depressed person in conversation and listen carefully. Do not disparage the expressed feelings but point out realities and offer hope.
- Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused. Encourage participation in some activities that once gave them pleasure. Things like some hobby or sport or religious/cultural activities etc but do not push. The depressed person needs diversion and company, but too many demands can increase feelings of failure.
- You should not ignore remarks about suicide. If possible, it may be helpful to share such feelings with the depressed person’s therapist or treatment provider.
Depression doesn’t mean the person has gone mad; it just means that the person’s ability to cope with challenges of life has temporarily reached a saturation point. Empathy is what they need. Empathetic is what we have to be.
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