When you have a loved one who you think could be developing depression, it is very hard to know what signals you should look out for and especially what to do. When my depression started I was on my own a lot and was the queen of wearing ‘the mask’ so when I was with people so it was very hard for them to spot until it was quite far down the line – really I didn’t even know what was happening myself.
Depression can develop very slowly. So slowly that as a friend or loved one you and even the person don’t even notice it creeping up on them until suddenly BAM it is there. There are a few signs you can look for if you start to see a shift in character or routine. Some things to look out for can be:
- Seeing a change in their life style - Avoiding things they would usually do - General Avoidance - Decrease in feelings and emotions - Lack of self care - Constant sadness or crying - Decreased energy - Irritability - Isolation - Difficulty making decisions or concentrating - Insomnia or persistent sleeping and difficulty getting up to do anything - Increased or decreased appetite - Reckless behavior (drinking, drugs, gambling etc)
These are just a few symptoms, but if you notice a few of these things or anything very unusual, it could be the start of depression.
There are a few things you can do to try and help to open up a conversation and make them feel safe. The key things are:
Say you have noticed a change in them and is everything ok
Make them feel safe and in an environment where they feel they can talk
But be prepared that they may not want to talk about it right away but just let them know you are there whenever they need.
Understand what they say without judgement.
ASK HOW YOU CAN HELP
The will probably say you can't, but just let them know you are there whenever they need
I found friends who researched what was going on were an amazing support as they had the understanding of what was going on and had read up properly what to say and do.
Also finding out how you can get them help when they realize that they do need it
HELP GET THEM THE SUPPORT THEY NEED
Be there for them when they decide they need help. Offer to take them to appointments, even come in with them if they would like. It can be very overwhelming as there is so much information given that it is hard to take in. If they are prescribed medication it can be difficult for them to remember what or when to take so make sure that they are clear on it all.
MAKE SURE YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
When supporting someone it is tiring and very easy to forget your own needs. Remember it is not just up to you to look after them, once they get help they will have a support team behind them. IT IS NOT SOLELY YOUR RESPONSIBILITY
At the end of the day just be there with them, if they want to do nothing do nothing be there, if they want to go for a walk go for a walk be there – just being there and showing you care and are always for them there is invaluable.