Depression is a common, serious medical ailment that harms nearly 300 million people. It negatively affects your feelings, your thoughts, your behavior, and your actions. The condition results in feelings of sadness and/or disinterest in once-enjoyable activities and could lead to many emotional and physical issues that weaken your ability to live a fulfilling life. Thankfully, it’s also treatable. Besides treatment like ketamine, you should be aware of other ways to handle depression.
Dealing with depression isn’t easy, not for family and friends, and certainly not for the person experiencing symptoms. There are many ways to deal with mental illness, including psychotherapy, antidepressants, and newer therapy like ketamine.
People suffering from depression may not acknowledge or understand they’re depressed. They may not recognize signs and symptoms, so they may think there’s nothing wrong.
- Talk to your loved one or friend about what you’ve seen and the reasons for your concern.
- Make clear that depression is a medical ailment, not a weakness or personal failure — and that improvement is possible with treatment.
- Encourage seeking professional help from a medical doctor or a mental healthcare specialist, like a psychologist or licensed counselor.
- Offer to help put together a list of questions to ask about during the first doctor’s appointment.
- Clarify your desire to help by scheduling appointments, taking that person to the appointment, and attending group therapy sessions if needed.
Identify Warning Signs if Things Get Worse
Everyone has a unique take on depression. Watch your loved one. Be aware of how it harms your family member or acquaintance — and know what to do if the situation goes south. Think of these problems:
- What are the normal symptoms of depression in your loved one or friend?
- What language or behaviors do you see when depression gets worse?
Be Aware of the Risk of Suicide
- If you’re concerned, talk about it. Be polite but blunt, and ask if the person is experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies, including formulating an actual plan to go through with it. This suggests a higher likelihood of a suicide attempt.
- Get help by calling the person’s doctor’s office, mental healthcare provider, or let other family members or friends know what’s happening.
- There are many local and national suicide prevention lines you could call. In the United States, call the 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) for consultation with a trained counselor. You can dial the same and reach the Veterans Crisis Line by pressing “1.”
- Ensure a safe environment by removing items that could be used during a suicide attempt, like firearms, other weapons, and prescription medication.
- Don’t hesitate to call 911 or your local emergency number right away if the situation merits that kind of intervention, and make sure the person has 24/7 monitoring during a crisis.
Promote the positive outcomes from treatment like ketamine or psychotherapy. If the person is being treated for depression, offer kind reminders to follow a prescribed therapy routine, including medicine and keeping appointments.
- Be ready to listen. It’s critical to communicate to the person that you desire to understand what he or she feels. If they want to talk, listen sensitively, but refrain from offering advice or opinions or passing judgment.
- Offer positive reinforcement.
- Help with everyday chores or make a list of things you’re willing to help with.
- Help dial down the stress level by offering to help your loved one make a regular routine, a schedule for daily meals, medication, physical fitness, and sleep, or help organize chores around the house.
- Direct your loved one or friend to local, state, or national organizations for help with mental healthcare. Many resources are available online and even locally.
- Some people with depression benefit by being affiliated with a church or spiritual group, or local organization or support group. You could offer to find information for your loved one or friend.
- Stay connected but don’t try to force the person into doing the same. Ask your loved one to go for a walk, watch a movie with you, share a meal, or spend time on a hobby or other pastime he or she once enjoyed.
There are many ways to deal with depression, but it’s important to find one that you or a loved one are comfortable with and can make a commitment to. Offering support to someone else is important, as well as ensuring your own mental wellness.