Category Archives: Depression

Helping Someone Who is Depressed

Some things to keep in mind if you know someone who is suffering from depression:

  1. First of all, this isn’t a case of the blues.  It isn’t a passing mood.  Clinical depression does have its ups and downs, but the person suffering won’t just “get over it.”
  2. Second of all, the person may push you away.  People who are depressed tend, involuntarily, to isolate themselves.  They tend to think that they are affecting people around them and to avoid that, they push people away.  Don’t take it personally and don’t let it affect your relationship!
  3. Third, this is a disease.

Now then, to help someone who is depressed, you may actually have to drag them kicking and screaming (NOT literally!) out of the house.  Reach out to them, get them out of the environment that they are trying to hide in.  This may not be what they think they want, but it is very, very good to get them out, away from the environment for a while.  Many people who are depressed tend to retreat from the world and isolate themselves.  Help them fight this tendency.   Go for a walk, go to dinner, go shopping, go to a park.  If they complain, be persistant but not unkind – recognize if they truly aren’t ready but keep coming back.

When you are helping someone who is depressed, it is VERY important to remember to take care of yourself as well.  Take time to do things you enjoy, to spend time with people who are NOT depressed, to do things unrelated to depression or the depressed person.  Get your rest.

Be there for the person.  If they just need an ear, listen to them and let them pour it out.  Avoid giving advice – just be supportive.  If  you’ve done some research about depression, share what you’ve learned and emphasize it is not their fault.

Try to remain upbeat and positive and be patient.

Spend some time together around animals: puppies, kittens, at the zoo, whatever.  Animals can help reach someone who is isolating themselves.

Know the warning signs of suicide – and DON’T be afraid to ask if they are considering it.  Do NOT ignore talk of suicide; take them to the emergency room or to a doctor immediately.

Ask what you can do to help.  Perhaps you can help get the kids to school, clean the house, cut the grass.  Does the car need to be inspected?

One other thing to remember:  don’t do too much for the person.  I know that sounds silly but people do also want to help themselves.  Don’t overdo the care!

Sources of Information

If You Know Someone Who’s Depressed

Depression.com – Help Someone You Love

Depression

WebMD: Supporting Someone Who Has Depression

About.com: Relationships and Depression

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Filed under Depression, Family, Health, Relationships

How to Recognize Depression

Depression can be a major problem at this time of year.  Holidays can be a huge source of stress and pain for some people, resulting in depression.  Sometimes depression isn’t obvious, either to the depressed person or to the people around them.  Two major things to look for include are:

  • Loss of interest in normal daily activities
  • Periods of feeling down, hopelessness, and sadness, or crying more than normal

Mind you, you or the person you think is depressed may or may not exhibit both of those things (or variations of them).  For example, I realized that I was apathetic about daily things, former favorite activities (like hobbies), and I felt hopeless at times, but I rarely cried and I rarely felt what I would call sad.

Other symtoms of depression include the following:

  • Sleep problems, including either sleeping too much or not enough
  • Eating changes: either eating more than necessary or not eating normally
  • Impaired concentration: lack of focus, inability to concentrate or difficulty making decisions
  •  Less interest in sex
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Agitation:  you may be easily annoyed, irritable, and/or restless
  • Fatigue:  your body movements may slow down.  You may feel weariness and lack of energy daily.
  • Depression can also result in gastrointestinal problems (constipation, diarrhea,  indigestion), headache, and backache.  Many people suffering from depression also exhibit signs of anxiety.
  • Male depression can result in different symptoms.  For example, men rarely cry as often as women.  Other symptoms of male depression:
    • Violence
    • Anger and frustration
    • Losing weight without trying
    • More risk taking
    • Alcohol or substance abuse
    • Isolation from family and friends

Sources of information:

Mayo Clinic

 NIMH

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Depression and Pregnancy

A lot of people view pregnancy as a happy, joyful time – in fact, I’d venture to guess that most people do. However, there is something that most people don’t talk about: prenatal depression. It isn’t talked about for many reasons, some of which include (a) the feeling that pregnancy SHOULD and always is a joyful time, (b) the belief that pregnancy protects women from depression, and (c) it is simply a hormonal thing – the normal ups and downs of pregnancy. “According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, approximately 10% of women who have just given birth experience postpartum depression.” (1) Also, any depression within 6 months of giving birth is “postpartum” depression.

I’m finding through my own personal experience that prenatal depression is very real and very troubling and, like other forms of depression, very hard to fight on your own. I realized something was wrong when I noticed that I couldn’t make simple decisions well, I had stopped doing all of the hobbies I used to enjoy, and I had stopped enjoying most of the shows I used to watch. I also lost interest in preparing food, although I still enjoyed it if I went out. I wasn’t crying all the time, but I was pretty apathetic about life in general. It was difficult for me to accomplish what I needed to for school because I could not get motivated enough to start. I just didn’t care about school work. I could not focus on any of my reading or assignments. At first I thought that was just “spring fever” but it didn’t pass and it didn’t improve. Basically, I had trouble with day to day life – I found myself avoiding doing everything I needed to do for me and my family except the bare necessities. I checked some on-line sources and found descriptions of depression and realized that I had many of the symptoms.

Symptoms of depression (2) include the following:

  • Depressed mood (hopelessness, sadness, discouraged, empty)
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Loss of interest or pleasure (nothing interests you – including hobbies, social activities, and sex)
  • Sleep changes (either insomnia or sleeping TOO much)
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Self-loathing
  • Inability to sit still, or sluggishness, lack of responsiveness
  • Irritability
  • Inability to focus or concentrate

Risk Factors for Postpartum Depression (3)

  • Multiple or serious stressful life events
  • History of severe PMS or difficulty becoming pregnant
  • History of childhood abuse (of any sort)
  • Poor social support
  • Poor nutrient diet or severe morning sickness
  • Poor relationship with your mother
  • High weight gain during pregnancy and/or poor weight loss after pregnancy
  • Unexpected or unwanted pregnancy
  • Women having their baby after the age of 30

The good news is that there is treatment. I was under the impression that there wasn’t much my doctor could do for me, since I’m pregnant. However, there are treatments. There are things doctors can do. First of all, it may help simply to talk to someone and let them know there’s a problem. Secondly, you can go to treatment. What helped me the most was a combination of talking to my doctor and having her understand that I was truly depressed and also having her put me on medication. It is true that you have to be careful about taking medication while you are pregnant, but doctors will help you when you are depressed. It is important – very important – that you take care of yourself as well at this point and doctors know that. According to the NIH, “women treated with antidepressant medicines and talk therapy usually show marked improvement. Depending on the type of medication they’re using, they may be able to continue breast feeding.” (3) It is important for women to realize that there is ALWAYS help available – of one type or another. It is also very important for the people around them to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression (versus the “blues”) and to reach out to them and offer support.

Treatments (4)

  • Talk therapy
  • Medications
  • Group counseling

Things You Can Do (4)

  • Try to get as much rest as possible.
  • Stop pressuring yourself to do everything. Do what you can and leave the rest!
  • Ask for help with chorses and feedings.
  • Find other mothers and talk with them; learn from other peoples’ experiences.
  • Do not spend a lot of time alone.
  • Get dressed and leave the house – take a walk or run an errand.

It is hard to find the words to describe what depression is from the inside. I always thought of crying, black moods, unfathomable sadness…and it may be those to others. For me, it has been like being in molasses up to my thighs – difficult to move around once you stop, difficult to get started again once you stop. It has meant no longer enjoying anything I used to do, including craft, read, watch forensics shows (I’ve cut out all but 2), cooking, and so on. No tears, really – not even a real sense of sadness. Just apathy, lethargy, lack of interest.

My purpose in writing this is to share my experiences and what I’ve discovered along the way in the hope that someone else won’t put off seeking help as long as I did. To think that I could have felt better much sooner is somewhat upsetting but I am not blaming myself or kicking myself or regretting anything; it is what it is. At least I did seek help and I did let someone know that I was having problems coping with my current situation. There is no shame in seeking assistance, in admitting that you’ve reached your limit and need help.

1 Helpguide – Postpartum Depression

2 Helpguide – Signs of Depression

3 NIH – Understanding Depression

4 Treatment of Postpartum/Prenatal Depression

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Filed under Depression, Pregnancy, Women's health

101 Ways To Cheer Yourself Up

  1. Do something nice for someone else.
  2. Go outside in the sunshine for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Take a break and read for 1/2 an hour.
  4. Soak in tub of hot water while listening to music.
  5. Surround yourself with candles and listen to music – or just peace and quiet.
  6. Write down what you are worried about and take a nap – or go to bed if it is time; you may have fresh ideas in the morning or after you wake up.
  7. Make lists; sometimes it helps to break things into smaller steps and check them off as you complete them.
  8. Write a letter to someone you’ve not heard from in a while.
  9. Write letters to older relatives; they will love it.
  10. Find a penpal.
  11. Show a child how to do something.
  12. Blow bubbles for a child.
  13. Set goals (do-able, achievable) for the day or week and check them off as you accomplish them. Start small.
  14. Read to a child.
  15. Have a cup of tea and a snack.
  16. Call a friend.
  17. Watch your favorite movie and have some popcorn (or your favorite treat).
  18. Start a movie night with friends.
  19. Get out of the house if you’ve been cooped up for a while.
  20. Buy some flowers.
  21. Raise a plant.
  22. Make a list of things you’d like to accomplish over the week, then spread them out over the week and check them off as you accomplish them.
  23. Meditate daily.
  24. Explore a subject that interests you.
  25. Fill a notebook with upbeat, inspirational quotes and affirmations.
  26. Try a daily affirmation.
  27. Read an upbeat, inspirational devotional.
  28. Add culture to your life; listen to classical music, look into art and find what you like, read good literature, etc.
  29. Declutter.
  30. Take a free online course about something that interests you.
  31. Take a class at the community college or university near you.
  32. For one week, try to improve one area of your life.
  33. Ask friends for suggestions of ways to cheer yourself up.
  34. Ask friends for suggestions of authors to try reading, or books in different genres.
  35. Get some exercise; inactivity breeds emotional troubles.
  36. Invent new reasons to celebrate.
  37. Take a stress-management course.
  38. Give duty a rest for once; put pleasure and happiness first for a little while.
  39. Have dessert for dinner one night.
  40. Have breakfast for dinner one night.
  41. Indulge in your favorite comfort food.
  42. Stop seeing yourself as a victim.
  43. Find a new hobby.
  44. Read a humor book.
  45. Read, read, read.
  46. Get more sleep.
  47. Eat better and drink more water.
  48. Look at your problems from a new perspective.
  49. Realize that the world has seen bigger problems that yours; put yours into perspective.
  50. Do one nice thing each day for yourself.
  51. Make a list of your accomplishments – over the last 10 years, or over your lifetime.
  52. Take care of yourself: floss, exercise, eat better, get more sleep.
  53. Be kind to yourself – as you would to others having a hard time.
  54. Do your best when it is really necessary; give yourself a break at other times.
  55. Be your own cheering section.
  56. Reach out to others when you can’t seem to get out of a rut.
  57. Ask others who have struggled with your issue for guidance or advice.
  58. Join a club.
  59. Try a new approach to your problem, or a new approach to whatever your facing.
  60. Talk to a doctor
  61. Exercise more in general.
  62. Keep a journal and write it out.
  63. Write it out on a piece of paper and burn it or shred it when you are done.
  64. Go for a walk.
  65. Go to the park.
  66. Go to the library for a little peace and quiet.
  67. Try something new to you: a new type of book/magazine, a new recipe, a new cuisine, write a book, write an article, a new craft, and so on.
  68. Try something new every week.
  69. Make time for yourself every day.
  70. Make meals in advance so you just need to warm something up on rough days.
  71. Order in when you need a break.
  72. Delegate household chores when you need a break.
  73. Remember that this too shall pass.
  74. Set up a website and experiment with it.
  75. Make a humor file and file cartoons, quotes, stories, and the like in it. Take it out when you need cheering up.
  76. Remember something funny that happened to you or around you and write about it. Submit to Reader’s Digest.
  77. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  78. Take a few deep breaths, and relax.
  79. Focus on someone else’s situation for a while. Offer help when you can.
  80. Help out in a soup kitchen or volunteer at a nursing home – or send holiday cards to people in a local nursing home.
  81. Send care packages to soldiers.
  82. Find a cause that means a lot to you and write your congressman.
  83. Give something back to your community: help pick up trash, keep your yard up, make sure your house is repaired, repair public things in your community, volunteer in the community, work on the the home owner’s association, take part in home owner’s association meetings.
  84. Find a women’s shelter and find ways you can help them.
  85. Join a church.
  86. Make a list of 10 people who have bigger problems than you, to gain a little perspective.
  87. Don’t start the morning with the newspaper; there is frequently a lot of “bad” or negative news. Read it later in the day.
  88. Keep yourself busy. Find things to do that you enjoy and focus on them.
  89. Choose your thoughts with care; they can really have an impact.
  90. Windowshop with a friend.
  91. Remember that no one can make you happy except you.
  92. Keep a self-improvement chart or make a journal/notebook for it.
  93. Change your hair color.
  94. Read a book that challenges you or makes you think.
  95. Try crossword puzzles.
  96. Try putting together a puzzle.
  97. Play with a kitten or a puppy.
  98. Go to a zoo.
  99. Visit an aquarium.
  100. Visit a friend.
  101. Set boundaries; if you need peace and quiet, let others around you know.

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Filed under Depression, Goals, Lists, Self-Improvement