Depression: What you should know

depression

If you think you, or someone you know, might be suffering from depression, read on.

What is depression?

  • Depression is an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.
  • In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • Something that can happen to anybody.
  • Not a sign of weakness.
  • Treatable, with talking therapies or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.

What you can do if you think you are depressed

  • Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Most people feel better after talking to someone who cares about them.
  • Seek professional help. Your local health-care worker or doctor is a good place to start.
  • Remember that with the right help, you can get better.
  • Keep up with activities that you used to enjoy when you were well.
  • Stay connected. Keep in contact with family and friends.
  • Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a short walk.
  • Stick to regular eating and sleeping habits.
  • Accept that you might have depression and adjust your expectations. You may not be able to accomplish as much as you do usually.
  • Avoid or restrict alcohol intake and refrain from using illicit drugs; they can worsen depression.
  • If you feel suicidal, contact someone for help immediately.

Remember: Depression can be treated. If you think you have depression, seek help.

 

Living with someone with depression?

 

Living with someone with depression can be difficult. Here are some tips on what you can do to help someone you live with who is depressed while taking care of yourself at the same time.

What you should know

  • Depression is an illness and not a character weakness.
  • Depression can be treated. What treatment is best and how long the depression lasts depend on the severity of the depression.
  • The support of carers, friends and family facilitates recovery from depression. Patience and perseverance are needed, as recovery can take time.
  • Stress can make depression worse.

What you can do for people who are depressed

  • Make it clear that you want to help, listen without judgement, and offer support.
  • Find out more about depression.
  • Encourage them to seek professional help when available. Offer to accompany them to appointments.
  • If medication is prescribed, help them to take it as prescribed. Be patient; it usually takes a few weeks to feel better.
  • Help them with everyday tasks and to have regular eating and sleeping patterns.
  • Encourage regular exercise and social activities.
  • Encourage them to focus on the positive, rather than the negative.
  • If they are thinking about self-harm, or have already intentionally harmed themselves, do not leave them alone. Seek further help from the emergency services or a health-care professional. In the meantime, remove items such as medications, sharp objects and firearms.
  • Take care of yourself too. Try to find ways to relax and continue doing things you enjoy.

Remember: When you live with someone with depression, you can help them recover, but you need to take care of yourself too.

 

Source: World Health Organisation

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