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.
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
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.
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.
Depression is a disease, just like asthma is a
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.
Continue to Why?
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
Supporting someone who has depression is important because
Helping someone with depression is important because:
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.
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.
Continue to How?
some things you can do to help:
The more you know about
depression, the better you can understand what the person is going
you have permission, you can:
A person who has
depression may feel alone in the world. Your support can help.
Spending a lot of time with
someone who has depression may be hard on you too. These caregiver tips can
For more information, see the topic
A way to help someone who has depression
Most people cannot get better on their own. Listening and helping the person with the tasks of
daily life can help.
Listening and giving support to someone who is depressed can help. So can helping around the house.
Lending a hand to someone who is depressed can help. So can listening and giving support.
You need to do everything possible and put your life
on hold to help a person with depression.
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.
Continue to Where?
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
If you would like more information on depression, the
following resource is available:
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."
Return to topic:
January 11, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
& Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
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