A one-and-done negative mood may not cause much harm, but those with major depression understand how challenging daily life can become. This mental health disorder characterized by a persistent lack of good mood or interest in any activity has a lot of stigma attached to it. Caused due to a combination of social, biological, and psychological factors, major depression affects 29% of Americans. The number of individuals suffering from this condition has reached new heights, with the most affected group being women and black adults. This disorder is such that it impacts the lives of the patient’s loved ones as well. Is someone from your family battling major or chronic depression? If yes, then this article will provide useful tips to help you offer them the support they need.
Major Depression Signs to Look Out For
In some cases, a loved one may have already been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. However, there are cases where the individual tries to hide their chronic bad mood for different reasons. They may genuinely believe that it is just a phase that will eventually pass.
Others choose not to reach out due to the stigma involved. It is different from that of other mental illnesses as the victims self-stigmatize themselves due to shame. You may want to closely watch for the following signs of major depression –
- Constant sense of anxiety and general discontent
- Feelings of hopelessness often expressed subtly during conversations
- Apathy towards life and activities the patient once enjoyed
- Excessive sleeping, restless sleep, or insomnia
- Loss of appetite, fatigue, or excessive hunger
- Social isolation, excessive crying, and easy agitation
- Inability to concentrate and slowness of activity
- Recurring thoughts of suicide, sometimes jokingly expressed to friends or family
- Sudden weight gain or loss
How to Help Your Loved One Overcome Depression
If you keep an eye out for the above-mentioned signs and suspect that a loved one may suffer from major depressive disorder, know that you can help them. With time and patience, they will open up to you and accept your help. However, listed below are good starting points.
Encourage Them to Seek Treatment
This can be a tricky task to accomplish, especially when your loved one has been secretive all along. It is possible that they may not even admit to the fact that they have depression and need help. The harsh truth is that depression is seldom overcome by willpower alone.
You must wisely select a time to have a one-on-one conversation about this. Bring it up and let them share their problem. As you actively listen, make your loved one feel safe and accepted, reassuring them that depression is a condition that can get better with treatment.
Nudge them to get a medical diagnosis. Though the diagnosis and treatment planning require mental health therapists, holistic support is even provided by trained nurses. Through DNP psych programs, such nurses know conceptual and clinical mental healthcare models.
They will work under the treatment provider to apply evidence-based clinical methods of safe, patient-centered care. According to Baylor University, the nurses are skilled in delivering therapeutic care for diverse age groups. This allows patients the safe space they need to express their feelings and thoughts.
So, let your loved one know the benefits of having a supportive care team and express your concerns for their well-being.
Help Them Establish a Daily Routine
In most cases, major depression makes the patient feel an undeniable loss of control. The persistent negative mood and apathy can leave them at the mercy of ‘spur-of-the-moment’ activities. In other words, patients need help establishing a daily routine.
With so much already happening internally, the last thing a depressed individual needs is the stress of making new decisions. A fixed routine will free them from this burden and help them feel more in control as they accomplish each task on the list.
You can create this anchor for them by scheduling their meals, physical activity, social mingling, sleep, medication, etc. Also, offer to help them out with their household chores like meal planning, laundry, dirty dishes, etc.
Some days, it may be difficult for your loved one to even get out of bed. Knowing that they have someone to lean on during such extra-hard days will motivate them to keep fighting against the illness.
Have a Plan to Recognize Relapse
If your loved one has finally agreed to treatment, you must notice the little things that show the medical assistance is working. Some signs that indicate a person with depression is doing better are –
- They will start making eye contact instead of looking down due to anxiousness or vulnerability.
- Their facial muscles will be more relaxed instead of tense.
- They will even smile occasionally and have a calmer demeanor.
- They will interact more and avoid social isolation.
- They will start eating and sleeping better.
Other than these, you must also be aware of signs that the treatment is not working as expected. This will help you understand whether they might experience a relapse or are contemplating suicide. These signs include –
- Using statements like, “I wish I were never born” or “I wish I could just die”
- Being fixated on death and dying
- Feeling trapped or hopeless
- Withdrawing from all social contact
- Constantly telling people “goodbye”
- Getting their affairs in order and donating belongings
If you notice such negative signs, contact their treatment provider immediately. Also, spend more time with them (not letting them out of your sight). You must also remove any guns, sharp objects, or hoarded medications from the house.
In case you feel too overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to take a break and reach out for professional support. But never fail to find humor in life as joy in the spirit can help overcome many a physical ailment.