It is estimated that about 3.8% of the population suffers from depression; in addition, it is also the leading cause of disability worldwide. These staggering statistics emphasize how common depression is international. It is important that depression be discussed openly and sympathetically so as to destigmatize it.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression is often defined as having a persistently low mood that goes beyond just feeling sad. Symptoms of depression usually include a loss of interest in things that were once enjoyable, irritability, and a decline in motivation. In some cases, depression can develop into unhealthy eating patterns, fitful sleep, or even suicidal thoughts.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Know the Signs
Being able to spot and identify the signs of depression is the first step to helping a person with depression. Common signs of depression are as follows:
- Withdrawal from social activity
- Discontinuation of hobbies and personal pleasures
- Low self-esteem (could manifest in self-deprecating jokes or anxiety)
- Often lost in thought
It is also important to note that these are not the end-all-be-all symptoms of depression. Depression can manifest in so many different ways, however, these are just the most common manifestations. Some individuals can be high-functioning depressed individuals which can make it difficult to spot the signs.
It is important to educate yourself on depression. It will show that you are taking their condition seriously and are not dismissing it as just “feeling down.” While you may not be able to empathize completely, having the knowledge of what the other is going through can make the individual feel like you truly care enough to take the time to learn. This can lead to that individual feeling more comfortable opening up to you and informing you of how they are truly feeling.
ENCOURAGE THEM TO SEEK HELP
While it is important for you to lend a helping hand, there are some issues that the average person is simply not equipped to handle. Depression is not something that must be dealt with alone, encourage the individual to talk to a professional that can offer them things an untrained person cannot.
INTERVENE WHEN NECESSARY
In some cases, depression can develop into suicidal thoughts. It is crucial that if you believe an individual may act on these thoughts to call emergency services. Even if the individual is insisting they do not need help, they may thank you later on.
Depression can be difficult for both the individual suffering from it and those around them. The key is to remember to be patient and open-minded, lending an ear when you can.
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