Here’s what you can do if you suspect a family member or friend is suffering from it. By Dawn Chen
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Dealing with depression is never easy. If you suspect a family member or a friend is going through more than just a bad spot, heed these tips from Natalie Lim, a registered psychologist at SMG Specialist Centre, on how to help.
1. Look out for symptoms of depression
Recognising that a loved one may be depressed can help you point them in the right direction, or get them the help they need. Here are some questions to ask:
– Is your loved one suddenly sleeping much more or less than usual?
– Has that individual’s interest been lost? (I.e. what he or she used to like is not as enjoyable as before)
– Does your loved one feel a sense of worthlessness and hopeless?
– Does your loved one’s energy seem diminished or drained? Is he or she always tired?
– Have there been issues with concentration?
– Has your loved one’s appetite decreased or increased?
– Are the person’s movements slower than usual?
– Does your loved one have suicidal thoughts?
2. Acknowledge the changes in behaviour, and find out the root cause
Often times, the changes in behaviour can persist for weeks or months. “In most cases, the problems can be sorted out without professional help,” says Natalie. For someone going through a difficult period, talking to friends and family members usually helps them to work through their struggles.
3. Understand what he or she is going through
If you are dealing with a child or teenager who appears depressed, it is important to understand where they are coming from. For example, scenarios like being exempted from school, experiencing the death of someone they are close to or being caught in a crime are all situations an adolescent may perceive as embarrassing and hopeless. In such instances, he or she may feel like there is no way out. Natalie suggests that it’s important to speak with the child or teen in such cases, and let them know they are not alone. Stay with them and do not let them close or lock their doors. Feeling frustrated that he or she cannot “snap out” of depression will only make the child feel more worthless, so it’s important to acknowledge what they are going through.
4. Be open to professional help when needed
In cases where depressive symptoms persist, it is recommended that the individual see a professional like a psychiatrist or a psychologist, says Natalie. In some cases, medication may be needed. Other treatment options like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Family Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) can be useful too.
5. Be supportive
Beyond seeking professional treatment, it’s also important to show as much support as possible to the depressed loved one. For example, exercising has been proven to help improve moods as the body releases endorphins to trigger positive feelings during a workout. Knowing this, you can make it a point to plan an active day out to exercise together. The sweat session and fresh air are sure to lift moods!