What do I do if I’m depressed?

Depression: how to help yourself and your loved ones

October 10 is World Mental Health Day. On this day, we want to talk about the most common disease in the field of mental health – depression. The article describes what mental health parameters are important to pay attention to, how to determine if a person suffers from depression and needs help, and how you can support them in this difficult period.


What is depression?

Depression is a serious illness that causes a lot of pain and suffering not only to the person himself, but also to his family, friends, and acquaintances. Many of those who suffer from depression do not admit that they are sick and do not accept treatment, although they clearly need it. Unfortunately, depression is often seen not as a disease, but simply as a manifestation of “weakness of character”, “lack of willpower.

Depression is a medical term describing a condition in which the brain’s ability to control mood is impaired. Depression affects feelings, thoughts, and body functions. Symptoms of depression include: strong negative emotions and feelings, loss of interest, fatigue, changes in sleep, sexual activity, appetite and weight; negative ideas such as pessimism, low self-esteem, indecision and suicidal thoughts. Overall, these symptoms produce a negative impact on people’s lives, affecting personal well-being, work, and relationships.

Along with cardiovascular disease, depression is one of the most common illnesses today. According to world statistics, 8-12% of the population suffers from depression at various points in their lives. Most of all in the U.S. – 16%. Researchers note that the ailment most often manifests itself from the age of 14-15.

According to the World Health Organization, depression has the following signs:

  • Depression is an illness characterized by a persistent state of despondency and loss of interest in activities that are normally satisfying, as well as an inability to do daily activities, for at least two weeks.
  • In addition, people suffering from depression usually have several of the following symptoms: lack of energy, decreased appetite, sleepiness or insomnia, anxiety, decreased concentration, indecisiveness, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, guilt or despair, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

It is important to remember that :

  • Depression can happen to anyone.
  • Depression is not a sign of weakness.
  • Depression can be treated with talk therapy or antidepressants, or a combination of the two.

What you can do if you think you are depressed:

  • Share your feelings with someone you trust. Most people feel better after talking to someone who cares about them.
  • Seek help from a professional. It’s a good idea to start by talking to your neighborhood or family doctor.
  • Remember, with the right help, you can get better.
  • Continue to do the things that gave you satisfaction before the disease.
  • Avoid self-isolation. Stay in contact with family and friends.
  • Exercise regularly, even if it means going for a short walk.
  • Stick to a regular diet and sleep schedule.
  • Accept the fact that you may be depressed and adjust your expectations accordingly. In such a state, you may not have the energy to do all things to the same extent as before.
  • Avoid or eliminate alcohol and refrain from using illegal psychotropic drugs or narcotics, as they can worsen depression.
  • If you have suicidal thoughts, get help immediately.

Remember: depression is treatable. If you think you are depressed, get help.

What should you do if someone close to you is depressed?

Living with someone who suffers from depression can be difficult. Below are some tips on how you can help a loved one suffering from depression while still taking care of yourself.

What you need to know:

  • Depression is an illness, not a character weakness.
  • Depression is treatable. The best method and length of treatment for depression depends on the severity of the depression.
  • Support from caregivers, friends, and family members makes it easier to heal depression. Patience and perseverance are required, as recovery can take a long time.
  • Stress can make depression worse.

What you can do to help a person suffering from depression:

  • Make it clear that you want to help, listen to the person without judgment, and offer support.
  • Read about depression.
  • Advise the person to see a specialist, if available. Offer to go with him to counseling.
  • If the doctor has prescribed medication, help the person follow the prescribed treatment. Be patient: Usually it will not take several weeks for improvement to appear.
  • Help the person with their daily activities and help them with their eating and sleeping habits.
  • Encourage regular physical activity and socialization.
  • Advise the person to focus on positive things rather than negative things.
  • If the person has thoughts of self-harm or has done self-harm on purpose, do not leave him or her alone. Contact emergency services or a medical professional. In the meantime, take away medications, stabbing objects and firearms.
  • Don’t forget about yourself. Try to rest and keep doing things you enjoy.

Remember: If someone close to you is depressed, you can help them get better, but you shouldn’t forget about yourself.

Are you worried that your child might be depressed?

Growing up is a period filled with both challenges and new opportunities: starting school, changing schools, new friends, puberty, preparing for exams, etc. Some children go through these changes easily. For others, however, adaptation is harder, leading to stress and even depression.

What you need to know:

  • Depression is an illness characterized by a persistent state of despondency and loss of interest in activities that are normally satisfying, as well as an inability to do daily activities, for at least two weeks.
  • Additional signs and symptoms of childhood depression include withdrawal, irritability, frequent crying, trouble concentrating in school, loss of appetite, or sleep disturbances (both drowsiness and insomnia).
  • Younger children may lose interest in games. Older children may show a tendency to engage in more high-risk behavior than usual.
  • Depression is both preventable and treatable.

What you can do if you think your child is depressed:

  • Talk to him or her about what is going on at home, at school, or outside of school. Try to find out what is bothering your child.
  • Talk to people who know your child and whom you trust.
  • Ask your doctor for advice.
  • Protect your child from excessive stress, abuse and violence.
  • Pay special attention to your child’s well-being during times of change, such as when he or she changes schools or goes through puberty.
  • Encourage your child to get enough sleep, eat regularly, be physically active and do things they enjoy.
  • Find opportunities to spend time with your child.
  • If your child has thoughts of self-harm, or has a history of self-harm, seek professional help immediately.

Remember: if you think your child is depressed, talk to them about what is bothering or troubling them and seek professional help if necessary.

Did you have a baby, but it doesn’t bring you joy?

The birth of a child is a huge event in a person’s life. However, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, fatigue and sadness. Typically, these manifestations do not last long, but if they do not go away, it may be a sign of depression.

What you need to know:

  • Depression after having a baby is very common. One in six young mothers suffers from it.
  • The symptoms of postpartum depression can also include a feeling of powerlessness, frequent tears for no apparent reason, lack of affection for the child, doubts about their own strength to take care of themselves and the baby.
  • Postpartum depression is treatable, there are appropriate specialists. Talking psychotherapy or medication therapy can help with this condition. Some medications can be taken while breastfeeding.
  • Without proper treatment, postpartum depression can last for months or even years. It can negatively affect your health and your baby’s development.

What you can do if you think you may be depressed:

  • Share your feelings with loved ones and ask them for help. They can help you care for your child at times when you need time to yourself or to rest.
  • Avoid self-isolation and spend time with family and friends.
  • Spend as much time outdoors as possible. If the environment is safe, walks will be good for you and your baby.
  • Talk to other mothers – they can give you advice or share their experiences.
  • Talk to your doctor. He or she can find the best treatment for you.
  • If you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, seek help immediately.

Remember: Postpartum depression is very common. If you feel that this is your case, seek help.

How to avoid depression: advice from a psychologist

Most experts agree that depression is based on a person’s inability to survive and accept various kinds of losses and losses in his life. They can be related to the loss of loved ones or relationships, health, work, economic stability, security, the collapse of previous opportunities, plans for the future and even ideas about the world. Unable to endure the pain of loss, a person runs away from his or her feelings and at the same time feels helpless and weak. If this flight is prolonged, he alienates himself, and depression begins. On how to correctly recognize the symptoms of the disease, as well as the main methods of prevention, tells the psychologist of the Moscow psychological help service Yulia Timakova.

“Depression occurs mainly because, along with bad feelings, from which a person runs away, leave and good, along with the experiences are lost values and connections with the world, and this leads to constant disappointment. As a result, the person, convinced that he or she is unable to change anything, becomes passive, submissive and apathetic. Emerging from such a condition is most often possible only with prolonged psychotherapy and requires a great deal of patience and effort. This is why a very important step in the prevention of this disorder is an attentive attitude towards oneself, feelings, experiences and the processes occurring in the body,” notes the psychologist.

How does depression manifest itself?

Depression as a disorder is a complex phenomenon that involves both the person’s psyche and body. On the mental level, changes are observed primarily in three areas: emotional, cognitive and motivational.

  • The main and striking disturbance of the emotional level in depression becomes a depressed mood, which does not depend on current circumstances and remains stable for a long time. Such moods are often accompanied by an inability to experience joy and pleasure and, in most cases, begin to cause the person severe anxiety. Feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction with oneself also become constant companions of the depressed person and often become the reason for continuing self-criticism.
  • At the cognitive level, the level of cognitive processes, with depression, a person notes a general slowing down of all processes: thinking seems viscous, it is difficult to concentrate, it becomes difficult or even impossible to make decisions. In the severe course of the disorder, the person often has intrusive thoughts about death. Among the problems of motivation, striving and desire that complicate life in depression, experts primarily refer to apathy – the absence of desires, indifference and indifferent attitude towards what is happening. The person often looks passive, submissive to the illness and has lost his or her will.
  • At the physiological level, a depressive state can also manifest itself with a whole complex of signs, which in the absence of the above mental symptoms often become markers of the so-called hidden depression. These include:
    • increased fatigue,
    • a constant feeling of weakness,
    • chronic fatigue,
    • Insomnia and any other sleep disturbances,
    • eating problems: fluctuations in appetite and weight.

    Despite the fact that only a specialist can correctly diagnose depression, often the combination of these symptoms is not accidental and requires close attention. Any disturbance of both mental and physiological processes can be an important indicator that something is going wrong in a person’s life.

    Preventive measures

    An important preventive measure of a depressive state becomes a ban on exhaustion . This prohibition is expressed in the refusal to do something if there is no energy to do it. Practically, this means that a person should treat his physical condition with care, and try not to allow it to worsen.

    So, for example, a woman should not wash the dishes after dinner if she comes very tired from work. This task should be delegated to other members of the family or put aside for later. Cleanliness and order in the house for many of us are an undeniable value, but it’s important to remember that we ourselves, our well-being is worth no less.

    To avoid exhaustion, it is important to adhere to the regime of the day and rest, be sure to give enough time to recuperate.

    The central step in the prevention of depressive disorder is to take care of the values that one already has in life: relationships with other people, a job or other activity one likes, health, the body, one’s home, favorite things and objects, things that fill life with warmth and joy. Caring here would be to make time for the values, to monitor their condition, to maintain them, or to make them better.

    Mindfulness of one’s time becomes the next important measure on the road to counteracting depression. The basic attitude here is that a person should only devote time to what is truly important to him or her. Here, it is necessary to learn to set priorities and not be afraid to defend them, including to oneself.

    A special role in counteracting depression is played by an understanding and accepting attitude toward oneself. For example, in work, if something has not turned out, it is important not to berate oneself, but to form the attitude “I did it as well as I could, so it cannot be bad. Such an attitude will allow you to take yourself and your capabilities seriously and prevent you from being unfair.

    A final preventive measure is to practice withstanding negative experiences . It is important to be sensitive to disappointments and losses, to accept the feelings they cause. Being able to grieve and mourn a loss is the best defense against depression.

    Despite all the prevention measures listed above, it is often too difficult to influence one’s own condition on one’s own. In this case, to come to the aid of specialists: a psychologist, if we are not talking about prolonged depression, or a psychotherapist when the situation is chronic in nature and without medical help is not possible.

    In the capital, the support of a psychologist can be used free of charge by making an appointment with one of the divisions of the Moscow Service for Psychological Assistance to the Population. Branches of the service are open in all districts of the city, and consultations take place both in person and remotely. Information about how to get help from a professional psychologist can be found at https://msph.ru/ .

    Press Service of the Moscow Department of Labor and Social Protection

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