It is always devastating to see someone who was once buoyant, turn disdainful as a result of depression. This might happen to someone close to you or to your neighbor you occasionally see or to someone else. Depression is a disease. A person can change physically and emotionally due to depression.
Help for the depressed involves a long drawn out process that requires constant monitoring, encouragement and patience. The different stages involved in the process to help depressed people are:
* Learning about depression – symptoms, causes, behavior & cures.
* Listening & talking to the depressed person. Keeping him company.
* Encouraging him to undergo counseling followed by medical treatment.
* Encouraging the depressed person to find his own ways to cope with depression.
* Help depressed person understand the situation.
* Encouraging the depressed person to participate in activities.
* Learn all you can about depression
Help involves learning and understanding depression. As a first step learn all you can about depression. You will have to talk to experts, counselors, doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, or read whatever you can to learn as much as you can. It is important to be able to identify and understand the difference between general behavior and the nature of a depressed person. You need to understand and treat depression like a disease. But, before you actually start doing anything, you need to learn to be patient. This is because treating a depressed person is a long drawn out process, which will test your patience. You need to ask yourself – Am I prepared and confident about this? If you are confident, then you will slowly transfer your confidence into the depressed person and help him view life differently.
* Listening & talking to the depressed person to keep him company
Most people love it when someone listens to them and takes them seriously. A depressed person has all channels of communication closed around him. Either he has stopped talking or others have stopped listening. Be there when the person wants to talk to you. If you can’t be there then make sure someone else is there with them. Sometimes a few words exchanged can be the difference between feeling happy or depressed. People can sometimes become afraid of being alone or they may develop a phobia due to depression. Help them out of this state by talking to them. Being there when they need someone for company is your way of showing you care. Be prepared for different types of moods and outpouring of emotions. Understand that a depressed person goes through a lot of emotional upheaval and letting this out bit-by-bit will help him. He may trust you with his feelings, truths and fears. You need not reveal all these to others. Nevertheless, if you are conveying these to a therapist or doctor, then you need to speak the truth. You might feel torn between loyalty to the depressed person and what you must tell the doctor. In this case, you must realize that you can act as a channel. Prepare yourself for any angry confrontation by the depressed if he finds out that you revealed all that he told you, to someone else. All these are different stages in a treatment process and you must treat these as such. This will also test your resolve hence whatever happens don’t lose faith in you or the person whom you are helping.
* Encouraging him to undergo counseling followed by medical treatment
Counseling and therapy are two important ways to combat depression. Help the depressed person become aware of their condition and encourage them to undergo treatment. You might face rejection, an angry retort, or a complete break in communication. Whatever happens don’t let the person recoil into a shell. The person may feel hurt and stay away from you, but you have to work with him to help him out of this situation because you have taken it upon yourself to help this person. Medicines like antidepressants have nasty side effects and may require 4 weeks of dosage to bring about some positive change. During this period, he might experience mood swings that may frustrate both him and you. You have to keep encouraging him to continue with the medicine and not loose faith in it. You have to be very patient while encouraging people suffering from depression.
* Help depressed person understand the situation
Once there is an improvement, help the person understand the situation he is in. The depressed feel worthless and suffer from self-pity or self-hatred. Help him out of this situation by telling him about other possibilities. Always keep an open ear to what the person wants to say. He may have suicidal tendencies and if he discloses this to you then take it seriously. Convey this to a therapist or doctor who can tell you how to encourage your friend to cope with the situation. If the depressed person finds out that you revealed his thoughts to others he may retort and break off all communication. You need to encourage the depressed to continue the treatment further and not give up. You need to be patient during this process. Do not tell him that he is feigning illness to stay away from responsibilities or to be pampered. This may lead him to recoil into deeper depression.
* Help the depressed person by encouraging him to participate in useful activities
The next stage involves encouraging the depressed into some sort of creative or pleasure activity. You too may have to participate in these activities to encourage him. These activities may be hobbies, outings, visits to important places or to a park. If he is addicted to drug or alcohol, then slowly try to wean him away from it. Try to encourage the depressed to identify that activities which make him feel useful and worthy or gives him confidence. This requires a lot of patience. Do not force your own ideas onto him. Encourage him to discover what he likes or dislikes. This requires a lot of patience and you also need to keep your cool.
* Encouraging the depressed person to find his own way to cope with depression
Remind him that every person has some capabilities and that he can use these for his own good. As the depressed begins to learn to cope with depression, encourage him to learn and find his own ways to cope with depression. Always remind him that others have been through the same painful process before him and that it’s possible for him to come out of this state and lead a meaningful life. This way the depressed person learns to cope with his fears, anxiety, feelings and disabilities. When the person begins to take a hold over his life, encourage him to understand that there are always ways to change.
It’s wonderful to help depressed persons and see them overcome their depression, especially if they happen to be you. Even otherwise, if you care about them, it’s up to you to help them.