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Depression: Supporting Someone Who Is Depressed


Table of Contents


Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.   Depression: Supporting Someone Who Is Depressed

If someone you care about has been diagnosed with depression, you may feel helpless. Maybe you're watching a once-vibrant person slide into inactivity or seeing a good friend lose interest in activities that he or she used to enjoy. The change in your loved one's or friend's behavior may be so great that you feel you no longer know him or her.

You probably want to help in some way. This topic will give you the tools to do so.

Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  What is depression?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Why is it important to support someone who is depressed?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  How can you help someone who is depressed?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Where to go from here

What? - What is the medical information or key concepts related to the action?  What is depression?

Depression is a disease. It's caused by changes in the chemicals in the brain. Depression isn't a character flaw, and it doesn't mean that the person is bad or weak. It doesn't mean that he or she is going crazy.

Depression causes a person to feel sad and hopeless much of the time. It's different from normal feelings of sadness, grief, or low energy. The person may lose interest in daily activities and may feel sad and grouchy for a long time.

Many people don't get help because they are embarrassed or think that they'll get over depression on their own. But most people need treatment to get better.

Treatment depends on how severe the depression is and includes medicine, counseling, self-care, or a combination of these. Sometimes a person has to try several types of treatment before finding one that works. Most people feel better in 1 to 3 weeks, but it can take as many as 6 to 8 weeks for treatment to work as well as it can.

Depression is common. Men and women of all ages, ethnic groups, and economic groups can have it. It often runs in families. But it also can happen to someone who doesn't have a family history of depression. A person can have depression one time or many times.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Depression is a disease, just like asthma is a disease.

    1. True

      This answer is correct.

      Depression is a disease. It's caused by changes in the chemicals in the brain. It's not a character flaw, and it doesn't mean that the person is bad or weak or going crazy.

    2. False

      This answer is incorrect.

      Depression is a disease. It's caused by changes in the chemicals in the brain. It's not a character flaw, and it doesn't mean that the person is bad or weak or going crazy.


Why? - Why the action is important?  Why is it important to support someone who is depressed?

If you've never been depressed, it's hard to understand just how hopeless and discouraged depression can make you feel. Depression can upset your life as much as other major illnesses, and it can make it hard to take care of family, work, and social duties.

Supporting someone who has depression is important because it can:

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Helping someone with depression is important because:

    1. It may help the person stay in treatment.

      This answer is correct.

      Most people need treatment to recover from depression. If your help gives the person a reason to continue treatment, you've done the best possible thing.

    2. It makes you feel good about yourself.

      This answer is incorrect.

      The most important reason to help is to help the person stay in treatment. If your help gives the person a reason to continue treatment, you've done the best possible thing.


How? - Learn the steps involved in taking action.  How can you help someone who is depressed?

Here are some things you can do to help:

Educate yourself

The more you know about depression, the better you can understand what the person is going through.

Help with professional treatment

If you have permission, you can:

Home support

A person who has depression may feel alone in the world. Your support can help.

Take care of yourself

Spending a lot of time with someone who has depression may be hard on you too. These caregiver tips can help:

For more information, see the topic Caregiver Tips.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. A way to help someone who has depression is:

    1. Tell the person to face up to things and get back to normal.

      This answer is incorrect.

      Most people cannot get better on their own. Listening and helping the person with the tasks of daily life can help.

    2. Listen and give support, but also point out that not everything is bad.

      This answer is correct.

      Listening and giving support to someone who is depressed can help. So can helping around the house.

    3. Help out around the house. Someone who is depressed may not have energy, so running errands or doing some housework can help the person.

      This answer is correct.

      Lending a hand to someone who is depressed can help. So can listening and giving support.


  2. You need to do everything possible and put your life on hold to help a person with depression.

    1. True

      This answer is incorrect.

      Help as much as you can, but you also need time for yourself. Take some time off to see other people and do things you enjoy. Join a support group if that helps you.

    2. False

      This answer is correct.

      Help as much as you can, but you also need time for yourself. Take some time off to see other people and do things you enjoy. Join a support group if that helps you.


Where? - Other resources and organizations that can help you take action.  Where to go from here

Now that you have read this information, you are better prepared to help someone who has depression.

Some medicines for depression have side effects that cause people to stop taking them.

Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition. Depression: Dealing With Medicine Side Effects
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition. Depression: Taking Antidepressants Safely

If you would like more information on depression, the following resource is available:

Organization

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
3803 North Fairfax Drive
Suite 100
Arlington, VA  22203
Phone: 1-800-950-NAMI (1-800-950-6264) hotline for help with depression
(703) 524-7600
Fax: (703) 524-9094
Email: info@nami.org
Web Address: www.nami.org
 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a national self-help and family advocacy organization dedicated solely to improving the lives of people who have severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder. NAMI focuses on support, education, advocacy, and research. The mission of the organization is to "eradicate mental illness and improve the quality of life of those affected by these diseases."


Credits for Depression: Supporting Someone Who Is Depressed

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised January 11, 2013

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