“It’s all fine to say, “Time will heal everything, this too shall pass away. People will forget”—and things like that when you are not involved, but when you are there is no passage of time, people do not forget and you are in the middle of something that does not change.” ― John Steinbeck,
About 19 million American adults are living with major depression. Blogger Brittany Graziano describes depression insightfully: Just imagine. Imagine having a flood of emotions run through your entire mind and body, causing all sorts of physical changes and intrusive, unwanted thoughts. Now, imagine that feeling, that nervous, anxious, overwhelming feeling that would give you...
Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch--hell we've all be through those times and know it will be okay in the end. No, it's a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care; it can be devastating to the one with depression as well as their family.
I can only speak as a mother who wants her sons to be healthy and loving and caring. Both my sons are great men. They care about others and communities, about politics and fairness, about love. I adore my sons. I look up to them as they find their ways through life. But one of my sons suffers from depression. His depression manifests itself in anger, in frustration, anxiety. These emotions can guide his way. His phone calls to me are at times long and ranting and rambling until he exhausts himself and we can move into more cheery discussions. I often leave our conversations exhausted, depleted, anxious. I mother-worry about both my sons; my worry focuses more on one than the other.
The Mayo Clinic lists these symptoms:
Depression signs and symptoms vary from person to person. They can include:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Changes in appetite — reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren't your responsibility
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent mention of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
As a family support member, trying to help someone who is depressed is a challenge, leaving us feeling helpless and overwhelmed. I haven't yet learned how to be a better support. I try to be a good listener. I try not to argue or tell him it will all work out. I try not to solve his problems...but I am his mom and I do want it to work out, so the pollyanna in me says so. I'm his mom and, as a single mom to him for over half his life, a problem-solver. Plus I get defensive when his ranting and raving move into my faults as his mother. So yeah, I eventually argue the facts...as I see them against his facts as he sees them. *sigh*
Again the Mayo Clinic:
What you can do for your loved one:
- Encourage sticking with treatment. If your relative or friend is in treatment for depression, help him or her remember to take prescribed medications and to keep appointments.
- Be willing to listen. Let your loved one know that you want to understand how he or she feels. When the person wants to talk, listen carefully, but avoid giving advice or opinions or making judgments. Just listening and being understanding can be a powerful healing tool.
- Give positive reinforcement. People with depression may judge themselves harshly and find fault with everything they do. Remind your loved one about his or her positive qualities and how much the person means to you and others.
- Offer assistance. Your relative or friend may not be able to take care of certain tasks well. Give suggestions about specific tasks you'd be willing to do, or ask if there is a particular task that you could take on.
- Help create a low-stress environment. Creating a regular routine may help a person with depression feel more in control. Offer to make a schedule for meals, medication, physical activity and sleep, and help organize household chores.
- Locate helpful organizations. A number of organizations offer support groups, counseling and other resources for depression. For example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, employee assistance programs and many faith-based organizations offer help for mental health concerns.
- Encourage participation in spiritual practice, if appropriate. For many people, faith is an important element in recovery from depression — whether it's involvement in an organized religious community or personal spiritual beliefs and practices.
- Make plans together. Ask your loved one to join you on a walk, see a movie with you, or work with you on a hobby or other activity he or she previously enjoyed. But don't try to force the person into doing something.
*****Depression is harsh. Depression is all-consuming. It can make every day tasks seem overwhelmingly impossible. Self-esteem plummets. It is exhausting.
It breaks my heart.
Link to Telephone, Hotlines and Help lines