Depression – A Very Lonely Illness

The irony of Depression is how isolating the illness can feel, even though there are many who have experienced it in their lifetime. Besides that, it may be difficult to understand or explain your different behaviour to loved ones. Words may seem hard to come by, especially when you yourself are unsure why you have changed. You may think you are just very stressed, need a holiday, or need a change in relationships.

Social withdrawal is a common symptom of Depression where loved ones could experience a diminishing level of companionship from a depressed friend or family member. But sometimes friends, colleagues, and family fail to see the symptoms, because the person who is depressed may be trying to carry on as best as they can, unwilling to talk about it for fear of embarrassment, shame, or appearing weak.

There is no shame in seeking help for Depression, just as you would for many other medical conditions. Depression is not a sign of weakness or that you are a bad person. People should know that there is hope for the future, and that very effective treatments exist for Depression.

Depending on the severity, medication may be prescribed as medications can help reduce some symptoms of Depression within a timeframe. They do not cure Depression, and the people who recover the best are those who combine the right medication with therapy and lifestyle changes.

Usually, a therapist meets with the patient for an hour each therapy session and focuses on trying to connect situations in that person’s life with different emotions and thoughts they are having. The number of sessions will be determined by the challenges they are facing.

Although symptoms of Depression vary greatly, they usually include a low mood, fatigue, a lack of enjoying activities you previously did, perhaps a ‘short fuse’ or irritability with others, sleeping too much or too little, weight changes, or trouble concentrating.

When the depressive symptoms are continuing for more than two weeks, they are considered to be outside of our natural mourning response that we get to sorrow-inducing situations. Underlying risk factors for Depression could include a biological predisposition for it, a person’s psychological makeup, or social aspects in their life including stress at work, relationships, or medical problems that cause stress or disability. Another possible factor for Depression could be Seasonal Affective Disorder.

For friends and family, there are several ways to assist someone with Depression. A primary recommendation is to be understanding and to avoid invalidating or telling the person to “get over it”. People with Depression often need encouragement before they will engage in previously enjoyed activities. And simply being present with them and providing empathy may provide some support they need.

If the person who has Depression feels confident enough to share that they have suicidal thoughts, the confidante should not be overly concerned that talking about it with them will hasten the tragedy. Talking about suicide is often a relief for the sufferer, sharing something they may have kept hidden for so long. However, it is important that the confidante recommend the person seeks professional help and possibly accompany them to the first professional appointment for support.