There are various types of depression. The ones we are going to talk about here are: situational, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and major depression. People respond to this mood disorder differently. If you know someone who has had depression, you know it can be difficult maneuvering around the relationship. The following information is based on my experiences as someone with manic depression or bipolar I. If you have someone in your life who suffers from depression, please do some research in order to better communicate with your loved one.
Depression can hit any of us at any time. You do not need to have a doctor to diagnosis you in order to experience what some people call the blues. All kinds of situations in life can bring on a down mood — a divorce, the loss of a loved one, moving, starting school or being the one who causes your team to lose the game. With situational depression, the symptoms do not last very long and in some cases the symptoms are not that intense.
This time of year puts a lot of people down in the dumps. SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder causes people to have depression symptoms due to the fact that there is a huge lack of sunlight.
I have SAD and I use a light therapy box for a few minutes at a time to help boost my mood. This is the first winter where I have used a light therapy box. It seems to be helping.
The symptoms of major depression are much more intense. However, to be considered for a major depression diagnosis, symptoms have to last many weeks, months or even years.
How to Help
Having depression can be a very fragile time for someone whether it is situational or major or SAD. At the bear minimum, it is best to follow their lead. If they want to stay in on a Friday night instead of going out, stay in and watch some movies or play some games. Conversely, if your depressed loved one gets some energy and wants to go to the gym and play basketball, encourage them to go.
A kind gesture to give to someone with depression is a listening ear. Many times the person who is experiencing the symptoms need to get things off their chest or let off steam. You do not have to fix anything or try to give them unsolicited advice. Just LISTEN — that means your mouth is closed, your ears are open and your heart and mind are engaged. Now if the person wants your advice, keep your comments short and do not try to force anything on them by telling them what to do.
At times, a depressed person lets themselves go. They stay in their pajamas all day, does not get out of the house or refuses to eat. If this happens, gently encourage them to get a shower, and tell them why they need to get a shower: “because it will make you feel better.” Help them change their clothes because this could help boost their mood, too. And lastly eat something so their body can take in the energy to get them out of the depression. You can try to encourage them to get out of the house to get fresh air and some exercise, but don’t force them.
It is okay if they cry. Sometimes when I am depressed I cry. It sometimes feels good when I cry. This doesn’t always mean I am suicidal.
Listen to them when they say they are suicidal. Don’t brush it off. Usually when someone says they are suicidal, it is a cry for help.
I cannot stress enough the importance of listening. Keep your comments to yourself and let them talk. If they want advice, they will ask for it or you will be able to tell from cues.
If you have some ways of helping someone with their depression, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.