World Mental Health Day: Living with someone with depression? Psychiatrists share tips on how to help them

Dr Anant Agarwal and Dr Neeraj Raj B share tips on how to help someone you know if they are suffering from depression.
mental health,Health & Fitness,Mental Health Day World Mental Health Day: Living with someone with depression? Psychiatrists share tips on how to help them
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Nothing is worse than seeing someone you love suffer at the hands of depression. Depression is a deceitful health disorder, wherein it becomes difficult to recognise who is suffering from it and who is not. While it is difficult for you, it is worse for the person who is suffering from this mental health problem. And it is necessary that you talk to them about these issues and stop them from taking any drastic steps. 

According to the World Health Organisation, over 90 million Indians, or about 7.5 percent of the country’s population of 1.3 billion, suffer from some form of mental disorder. “This is partly owing to the rate of change taking place in modern society, partly due to the disruption in work, personal life and relationships (some of which has been aggravated due to the ongoing pandemic) and partly due to some other factors,” said Dr Anant Agarwal, Consultant Psychiatrist, Perspective Psychiatric Centre and Partner Doctor of Meddo. 

In times like these, it is essential for closed ones or caregivers to identify the condition and seek help to improve the quality of life of those suffering from depression. “Caregivers should know how to differentiate between sadness and depression. True depression means sadness will persist for a majority of the day and it percolates on all aspects of day to day life depending on the severity. This is associated with or without lack of interest in pleasurable activities, attention and concentration difficulty, suicidal thoughts, depressive cognition like helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, decreased appetite and decreased sleep. Some individuals with depression may try to cope with it by using substances like alcohol, smoking cigarettes or cannabis,” explained Dr Neeraj Raj B, Consultant Psychiatrist, Aster RV Hospital. 

Here’s what you can do to help someone suffering from depression. 

1. Be supportive 

You must know that a person suffering from depression is going through their fair share of stress, and they tend to be extra touchy and sensitive about how the external world perceives them. Dr Agarwal recommends taking active steps to ensure that there is no overt act of discrimination. Make sure that the person knows that they are loved, accepted and should feel comfortable. 

2. Build awareness 

The only thing worse than battling depression is fighting the stigma it carries. It is the responsibility of every citizen to try to remove the misinformation that fuels the multitude of misconceptions and myths associated with the condition. The best weapon to combat the foe of stigma is the power of information. Make sure you learn as much as you can about depression. 

3. Be attentive 

If you witness any signs that the person is spiralling, such as loss of appetite, sleeplessness or oversleeping, overeating or not eating, personality changes, dependency on drugs, gently ask them about it. Monitor their behaviour and well-being, so you know for sure what they are battling against. And don’t forget to explain it all to the professional for effective treatment. 

4. Try to remove triggers 

When you try to help someone, they might reject your efforts. Their reaction could be a form of defence mechanism, and they might think that they are not doing as good a job in hiding their feelings as they thought. It might even trigger feelings of self-harm in such cases. According to Dr Neeraj Raj B, you should try to avoid such scenarios and create a safe space for the person to recover by being there for the person. 

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