What about…. depression? …. Oh, that awful word…. for so many women. It strikes women of all ages, backgrounds, and all walks of life. How can we detect it? How do we get the help we need? How can we help a dear friend or family member who we believe may be suffering from depression?
I chatted with my dear friend, Linda Wharton, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, who helped shed some light on the signs and symptoms of depression.
Linda shared, “Well, first things first; it is helpful to understand how we (professionals) define depression. There is one type that is all year long called Major Depressive Disorder.”
Depressed mood and/or loss of interest or pleasure in life activities for at least two weeks in some of the below areas could mean you are suffering from depression. Some of the symptoms include:
- Depressed mood most of the day.
- Diminished interest or pleasure in most activities.
- Significant unintentional weight loss or gain.
- Insomnia or sleeping too much.
- Agitation noticed by others.
- Fatigue or loss of energy.
- Feelings of or worthlessness or excessive guilt (which could include suicidal thoughts).
- Having trouble thinking, concentrating or indecisiveness.
- Recurrent thoughts of death.
If you think you may be suffering from depression, here is a link to a simple test called “Beck Depression Inventory”:
I asked Linda what are some of the signs and symptoms of someone who may be depressed.
- Has she fallen off the face of the earth? (And not just because she is working, taking care of her family and needy children.)
- And when you do see her, she shares she is not feeling well?
- She doesn’t call and when she does, she barely talks about anything.
- She’s lost a lot of weight and she clearly hasn’t been sleeping (and it is not that newborn no sleep thing or teenage years no sleep thing).
- Or maybe she’s sleeping all the time. When you stop by the house to see how she’s doing, she’s still in her pajamas from two days ago and clearly hasn’t showered in days.
- Maybe she’s even turned to alcohol or another substance to help her cope. You can just tell in your “friend gut” that something just isn’t right. She’s just not her usual self.
What can we, as non-professionals, do to help? Linda shares:
- Call her! Tell her that you miss her and that you want to help. Listen to your friend or family member that is trying to cope with this. Depressed people often feel as if no one understands them so they don’t share. While you do not have to understand or have all the answers, you can share a burden with them (just as in Matthew as Jesus shares the yoke with us, so we can with them). Studies show that just talking it out and having someone to listen helps people with depression.
- Self-Help is so Important! Invite her out to get a pedicure, go shopping for new makeup, or whatever it is that helps her relax.
- Encourage her to get exercise. Exercise helps with any kind of depression.
- Make sure she starts eating again and attempts to sleep, or encourage to see her physician about these things.
Linda shares importantly, “please note, that if your friend is making statements such as ‘they would be better off without me’ or ‘I can’t keep living like this’ or similar phrases, or share about how they will harm themselves, it may be appropriate to get a professional involved to keep them safe.”
Linda suggested, “I would also include a list of local referral places where they can receive counseling (and at a discounted priced).”
Some would include:
Locally and nationally, “Psychology Today” can help: https://www.psychologytoday.com/
I hope the above information helps and thanks, Linda, for helping us understand common signs and symptoms of someone who is experiencing depression.