It is estimated that one in five of us will experience mental health challenges during any given year. One such challenge is depression, which is a widespread and diagnosable condition that has a negative impact on how we feel, think, and act.
Clinical depression, for example, is a mental health illness characterized by a persistently low mood or loss of interest in activities that significantly impairs daily living, whereas persistent depressive disorder is a mild form of depression that lasts for an extended period. To take care of ourselves, we must be aware of the symptoms of depression, have a few tricks up our sleeves for when we are down, and understand how to support someone we care about who is feeling depressed.
Depression symptoms can range from moderate to severe, but they must persist for at least two weeks and lead to a change in how well we are functioning in our everyday lives for us to be diagnosed with depression. Some of these symptoms include:
- Sadness or a depressed mood.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in formerly enjoyed activities
- Appetite changes leading to weight loss or gain unrelated to diets
- Sleeping difficulties or excessive sleep
- Energy loss or increased fatigue
- Increased purposeless physical activity (e.g., difficulty sitting still, pacing, handwringing) or slower movements or speech (these actions must be severe enough to be observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Problems thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Ways to Look After Ourselves When We’re Depressed
When we are depressed, we tend to find we have less energy. This means that we need to reduce the quantity of work we intend to do each day. We can do this by identifying the bare minimum that we need to get done and not being concerned with working on any major projects. One of the simplest ways to care for ourselves when we are depressed is to treat ourselves as if we were a close friend or family member. We wouldn’t be upset with them if they broke their leg and couldn’t go for a walk, and we shouldn’t be angry with ourselves when our mental health prevents us from doing things we normally might.
Other ideas for what to do when we are low on energy include reaching out to friends and family for help. If we are struggling to make food that is appealing, we might ask a friend to do some food shopping for us or to bring us some takeout to eat. If we are unable to stay on top of chores, we might ask a family member to come over and put a few loads of laundry in or help us do some of our dishes. If we have been struggling to leave the house, we can ask someone we know to come over and have a cup of tea with us so that we can see other people without having to leave our home. This is a particularly good idea since seeing other people can also be helpful in reducing our feelings of sadness, depression, worthlessness, and guilt.
What Can We Do If Someone We Love Is Depressed?
Sometimes the only thing more difficult than attempting to manage our own depression is witnessing someone we care about suffering from depression. When we realize a loved one is in pain, we often first ask how they are doing and if there are any tasks, we can assist them with. We might also offer some of the tactics that helped us when we were depressed.
On the other hand, if we do not believe we can provide the degree of care they require, we may encourage them to seek professional help. When treating teen depression, for example, it can be very helpful to focus on reaching out to compassionate mental health specialists who can provide numerous therapeutic options to assist teens in seeing hope amid their despair. When someone we care about is depressed, professional help can make all the difference.
When it comes to helping someone who is depressed, we must meet them where they are without passing judgment. It’s also crucial to be kind and recognize how difficult depression may be. Most of us will experience depression at some point in our lives, so we should all be understanding when individuals we care about are suffering.