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What is Depression?

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, you may have depression. More than just sadness in response to life’s struggles and setbacks, depression changes how you think, feel, and function in daily activities. It can interfere with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. In addition, just trying to get through the day can be overwhelming.

While some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or impending doom, others feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic. Men, in particular, can feel angry and restless. However, if you experience the problem left untreated, it can become a severe health condition. But it’s important to remember that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are symptoms of depression—not the reality of your situation.

No matter how hopeless you feel, you can get better. By understanding the causes and recognizing the different symptoms and types of depression, you can take the first steps to feel better and overcome the problem.

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Recognizing Depression Symptoms in a Loved One

One in five Americans is affected by mental illness. You probably know at least one person who has experienced anxiety, depression, or something of the like in their life. While common, it can sometimes be challenging to spot in loved ones.

Many of the 16 million Americans who deal with depression are left untreated or undiagnosed. Deciphering between temporary sad moods or prolonged depressive episodes is an unenviable task for a family member or friend. To mark Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight the signs and symptoms of depression, what to look for in your loved ones, and the steps you can take to help if a loved one is depressed.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Recognizing and diagnosing depression can be difficult, as it affects people differently. Depression can look different depending on your age or gender.

Signs of Depression in Women

As children grow older into their teenage and adult years, females are more likely to become depressed due to biological and hormonal changes.

There are specific types of depression that only affect women, mainly due to hormonal changes that occur at various times of their lives. For instance, women can become depressed when pregnant, called perinatal depression, or after the birth of their child, called postpartum depression. Women may also experience depression during their menstrual cycle or menopause.

Common signs of depression in women include sadness, helplessness, decreased libido, and digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation. They may also experience weight gain, increased appetite, and trouble sleeping.

How to help a friend with depression
How to help a friend with depression? Start a conversation. Let your friend know you’re there for them.

Signs of Depression in Men

Men tend to be less emotional and less outward with their feelings, so it can be challenging to spot depression. Often, depression in men can be confused with aggression or anger. 

There are still several ways to tell if a loved one is depressed. A change in sleeping patterns or a disinterest in work or other hobbies can be tell-tale signs since depression often causes fatigue. They may also present physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, chest pain, headaches, or digestive issues.

Signs of Depression in Elderly People

Don’t confuse depression with old age. Yes, older adults may seem more tired than usual or lack the drive they once had. But, there is a difference between slowing down as you age and depression.

Diagnosing depression in older adults can be tricky since they may not show typical signs of depression. Instead, they may display a lack of emotions rather than a depressed mood. They can also become increasingly grumpy or irritable. Physically, trouble sleeping and constant fatigue are often signs of depression.

How to Help a Friend with Depression?

Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects millions of people, from young to old, and from all walks of life. It gets in the way of everyday life, causing tremendous pain, hurting those suffering from it, and impacting everyone around them.

How can I help a friend with depression? If someone you love is depressed, you may be experiencing any number of difficult emotions, including helplessness, frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and sadness. These feelings are all normal. It’s not easy dealing with a friend with depression. And if you neglect your health, it can become overwhelming.

Your companionship and support can be crucial to your loved one’s recovery. You can help them to cope with depression symptoms, overcome negative thoughts, and regain their energy, optimism, and enjoyment of life. Start by learning all you can about depression and how to best talk about it with your friend or family member. But as you reach out, don’t forget to look after your emotional health—you’ll need it to provide the full support your loved one needs.

How to help a friend with depression
How to help a friend with depression? Learn about depression on your own. While people experience depression differently, being familiar with the general symptoms and terminology can help you have more in-depth conversations with your friend.

How to Help a Friend with Depression and Anxiety?

Learn about what your friend is going through

Uncertain of what depression or anxiety are or how to support a friend who is experiencing either condition? Knowing more about depression, anxiety, or anything else your buddy is going through will help you better understand what’s happening and how they feel. This is a great first step in helping a friend through depression.

Be open and welcoming, and listen

Knowing what to say to a worried or sad buddy can be challenging. Ask your pal how they’re doing if they feel like conversing. What to say to someone nervous or depressed? You may start the discussion by remarking, “It appears like things have been difficult for you lately. What are your thoughts? Furthermore, what can I do to assist? 

Considering their feelings

It is impossible for someone who has a mental health issue to “snap out of it,” “cheer up,” or “forget about it.” Don’t tell them their feelings are strange or unjustified; acknowledge that what is happening must be tough to handle.

Help them to find support

Your friend may be unsure of how to receive support or may not be aware of the available professional support choices. It might be intimidating to see a health professional, even if they know the support resources available.

Continue to assist them and be prepared to act in an emergency.

How can I help a friend with depression? Your friend might not want to leave their room on a bad day. Encourage them to keep the appointment if they say something like, “I’m going to cancel my appointment today.” Whether or not your buddy has chosen to seek professional assistance, they must be aware of the support you and their other friends and family can provide.

Celebrate their accomplishments

It can be challenging to recognize and celebrate your accomplishments while going through a difficult time. Likewise, it can be challenging to recognize your development. Congratulate your friend and go out and have fun when they take a step in facing their worries or improving their wellness. Please encourage them to take pride in themselves.

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What to Avoid If You’re Suffering From Depression?

Although depression is a common problem, each person’s case is different and needs to be dealt with differently. However, several typical lifestyle issues can get in the way of recovery. Here are 12 things it’s best to avoid if you’re suffering from depression or anxiety or dealing with a friend with depression.


1) Don’t ignore your issues. They won’t solve themselves. Seeking help and addressing your problems is the only way forward, even though it can be painful to begin the journey.


2) Don’t drink alcohol, especially not to excess. Although it can make you feel better in the short term, it doesn’t solve anything and can quickly introduce new issues. Also, it acts as a depressant, hindering other recovery efforts.


3) Avoid staying in bed or letting your sleep patterns become chaotic. Insomnia can make depression much worse, and sticking to a regular sleep routine is the best way to avoid this.


4) Don’t lock yourself away indoors. Ideally, you should try to maintain social contact, but if you can’t face this, at least get some fresh air and sunshine. Studies repeatedly show that spending time outdoors is a powerful way of reducing depression and anxiety.


5) It might be tempting to escape into video games or other virtual distractions, but don’t overdo this. At best, it’s avoidance, but at worst, it further isolates you from the outside world, giving your problems a space to grow out of proportion.


6) Resist the urge to wallow in sad music. It might speak to your current mood, but it’s unlikely to do much to lift it.


7) In the same way, don’t fixate on depressing news and media. Bad news sells but gives an unrealistically pessimistic view of the world.


8) Avoid comparing yourself and your life with other people. You’re almost certainly not seeing the reality, and it will only make you feel worse if you come up short. That is particularly true on social media, where most people just share the best parts of their lives.


9) Never feel guilty about your depression. It’s an illness with both genetic and environmental roots. It’s not your fault; you’re not weak and can’t just snap out of it.


10) Try not to think too hard about the future, especially if this always leads to catastrophization, where you can only imagine the worst. Try and live in the moment whenever something positive is happening.

How to help a friend with depression
How to help a friend with depression and anxiety? Help them find support. Even if they know therapy could help, it can be daunting to search for a therapist and make an appointment.


11) Think carefully before embarking on a new relationship unless you’ve got a handle on your problems. It’s not fair to the other person unless they’re entirely in the picture, and any relationship failure linked to your depression will hurt you both badly.


12) However, don’t think you can deal with depression on your own. Would you avoid medical help for a chronic physical disease? Talk to trusted friends and family, as well as seek professional support.


Lastly and most importantly, don’t lose hope. There’ll be a time when life feels immeasurably better, and no matter how you’re feeling now, that day will come sooner than you think.

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How to be a Friend to Someone with Depression?

Depression is not a person’s choice, and everybody experiences it differently. Depression is a treatable brain disorder but very difficult to live with. But what if you are dealing with a friend with depression? Being depressed is difficult enough. You can’t help but feel helpless as you watch someone you love to fight a crippling battle inside of their mind. You try to use encouraging words. You say everything that you’re “supposed” to speak to a person who is down in the dumps.

When you are misunderstood by the ones you love, there is nothing that makes you feel more alone in the world. You’re just worn out; you’re not mad with them. The bags under your eyes are not caused by a restless night but rather by your inner critic, who constantly berates you and makes allegations against you until you start to believe it.

We are capable of trying again. To talk from a place of genuine compassion rather than one of ignorance and division. To use our words more carefully. Kind words probably won’t be enough to jolt your loved one out of their depressive state. But you can discover how to extend yourself from a more attentive position. You can learn how to support someone depressed by being a good friend.

When It’s Time to Intervene?

If your initial encouragement doesn’t spur your loved one into action, a direct intervention-style approach may be an option. During this intervention, a larger group of friends and family members confronts the depressed individual to convince him that professional psychiatric assistance is needed.

Generally, these types of interventions are performed when a person has a problem with drugs or alcohol, but in certain situations, one may be appropriate for someone suffering from depression. Depression interventions have pros and cons. The advantage is an intervention brings the depression out into the open and forces the patient to actively confront her illness in a manner that demonstrates the concern of loved ones, The disadvantage and risk of performing a depression intervention is that if it is not done correctly, the person with depression can feel like she is being attacked and quickly become defensive.

How can I help a friend with depression? In response to a larger, more confrontational group, a depressed person may not have the same eye-opening reaction as an alcoholic or drug addict.

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How to Talk to Someone About Depression?

How to treat someone with depression? Depression can be hard to talk about. But if a friend or loved one is depressed, having a conversation about getting help can make a big difference. Use these tips to start talking.

Show you care

You can say:

  • “How are you feeling? I’m here to listen to you and support you.”
  • “I’m concerned about you. I think you may need to talk to someone about depression. I want you to get the help you need to feel better.”
  • “I’d really like to spend more time with you. Let’s take a walk, grab something to eat, or go to a movie.”

Offer hope

You can say:

  • “You’re not alone. Many people suffer from depression
    — it’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
  • “Depression is treatable. Getting help is the best thing you can do.”
  • “Many people get better with treatment — even people who have severe depression.”
  • “There are different ways to treat depression, including therapy and medicine.”
  • “Getting more physical activity can lower your stress level and help you feel better.”

Offer to help

You can say:

  • “Let me help you figure out what’s going on. You can start by making an appointment with your doctor — or I can help you find someone else to talk to, like a counselor, therapist, or social worker.”
  • “I can give you a ride to your therapy appointment or remind you to take your medicine.”
  • “You can call or text me at any time if you need support — or if you just want to talk.”

 

How to Get Free Help for Depression?

There are ways to get free help for depression. though by working with your doctor or pharmacist and by being open to avenues of depression treatment other than antidepressants. 

Find Meds for Free

Drug samples are frequently provided to doctors by pharmaceutical companies. Find out whether your doctor has any drug samples on hand. The overall price of your therapy can be reduced with even a few occasional freebies. Additionally, you can qualify for free prescriptions through organizations and other initiatives created to aid those with financial difficulties in accessing medical treatment.

Explore Alternatives

How do you help a friend with depression? You may get herbal treatments and nutraceuticals without a prescription, which are affordable for treating depression. The most popular ones that some individuals use for depression and other issues that frequently accompany depression are listed below.

Try Therapy

Although psychotherapy can be costly and beneficial, some practitioners offer sliding-scale pricing. The provider will adjust their fees in accordance with your income. Alternatively, you might be able to bargain with a therapist for a reduced fee or a payment schedule based on what your insurance will cover. Find out what counseling services are available in your town as well. Many have community mental health centers (CMHCs), which provide a variety of therapy and counseling services, frequently at a discounted rate for those with little financial means.

Consider a Clergyman

A staff member at your church or synagogue might be able to connect you with a pastoral counseling program if you go there. In addition to having professional counseling experience, certified pastoral counselors who are ministers in recognized religious organizations also hold advanced degrees in pastoral counseling. A sliding-scale pricing schedule is frequently used for pastoral counseling.

Seek Support 

Self-help and support groups enable people to discuss and collaborate on common difficulties like alcoholism, drug misuse, depression, family problems, and interpersonal relationships. Self-help groups are typically cost-free. You can use the National Mental Health Self-Help Clearinghouse to locate a group in your area.

Go Public

You might be qualified for government assistance to cover the cost of your mental health care under schemes like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

Clinical Trials

Participants in many study programs for new medications will receive free treatment. If you’re interested in participating in a clinical trial, be sure your doctor is on board because one drawback is the possibility of receiving a placebo or an unproven medicine.

how how to help a friend with depression
How to help a friend with depression and anxiety? Be patient

How to Support a Friend with Depression?

How to be a friend to someone with depression a friend with depression? Perhaps one of the best ways in dealing with a friend with depression is by helping them find the help they need. Sometimes finding a therapist or doctor can seem overwhelming, so standing by their side as they reach out for support can make a huge difference. Helping your friend find a therapist can make the process much less daunting. You can draft a list of potential therapists to help your friend choose which is right for them.

Learn how to help a friend with depression. If you think someone you know may be suffering from depression or dealing with a friend with depression, it’s important to approach the subject compassionately and with empathy. Many people may feel ashamed about not being able to just deal with life, but having a loved one reach out can be a first step toward seeking professional help and getting back on the road to a more fulfilling life.

Alcohol Detox and Depression Residential Treatment Near Me

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is often accompanied by substance abuse or dependence. The mental health field has long discussed whether these conditions are independently occurring disorders or are overlapping illnesses intertwined by common etiologic and vulnerability factors. The initial presentation of depression can be obscured by the overriding symptoms or side effects of a substance use disorder (SUD).

People who suffer from depression can experience severe sadness that lasts weeks or even months at a time. It’s common for those battling mental illness to also struggle with substance abuse. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine which condition came first.

How to help a friend with depression and anxiety? To determine the most effective ways to treat depression and substance abuse comorbidity, getting an accurate assessment of all the symptoms is crucial. When a mental health professional has evaluated the symptoms, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular treatment. A professional assessment is crucial in providing evidence-based help with addiction and depression.

Detox Treatment

The first step in dealing with detox and depression treatment is medical detox. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to substance abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment and rehab for depression help prevent relapse. Clinicians can give the necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the emotional effects of alcohol withdrawals.

Psychotherapy

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression. 
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis programs treat both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

We Level Up NJ has mental health professionals on staff who can help those suffering from depression start getting back to their lives and assist those around them in understanding how to be as supportive as possible. If you or a family member is seeking treatment, contact us, and we would be happy to help.

how how to help a friend with depression
How how to help a friend with depression? Letting your friend know you still care about them as they continue to work through depression can help.

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Sources:

[1] US Department of Health and Human Services – https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationships/depression-conversation-starters/How to Help a Friend with Depression?
[2] NIMH – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/How to Help a Friend with Depression?
[3] NIMH – https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder/How to Help a Friend with Depression?
[4] SAMHSA – https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/SAMHSA_Digital_Download/PEP21-06-05-002.pdf/How to Help a Friend with Depression?
[5] Effective Rehab For Depression & Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Detox and Depression (welevelup.com)
[6] Effective Residential Treatment For Depression & Dual Diagnosis Rehab ( Detox and Depression) (welevelup.com)