Depression. It’s a horrible word that sounds almost as sinister as the actual thing. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced depression in the past and I know many people who are afflicted by it. As we get towards the winter months, the days are shorter and vitamin D levels reduced which often results in depression. So, what should you do if someone you care about is depressed?
Talk to them
Find out how they are on a regular basis. Let them know that you’re there for them, even if it’s over the phone or internet, not physically. Try to get an idea of how serious it is from their behaviour and what they’re saying. Let them open up to you, or gently suggest that they open up to someone they feel comfortable talking to. Often, they’re worried about hurting the people closest to them if they talk about how they’re really feeling. That brings me on to my next point…
There are phone lines for various charities where you can talk about how you’re feeling and get support. One of the most well-known charities in the UK is Samaritans. You can talk to them on the phone, email them, or physically visit them at one of their buildings. There are also services becoming available via social media.
Remind them that they aren’t alone and that things won’t always be like this. I know people who have felt depressed and had suicidal thoughts. They felt that things were never going to get better and that there’s only one way out of it. However, life has improved for these people and they’re so glad they didn’t take further action because they wouldn’t be in the happy situation they find themselves in today. Try to help them focus on the good things in their lives that usually make them happy, such as family, or future events that they may be looking forward to.
Encourage them to get help from a doctor, such as cognitive behavioural therapy or counselling and perhaps medication. Depression does not make you a weak person and asking for help is a very strong thing to do.
Do what you can
If possible, spend as much time with them as you can doing things they enjoy (or usually enjoy). It may well help to lift their mood a little, even if for a while. At the very least, it shows them that someone is there for them. Good options would be something that engages their brain, spending time in nature or doing something creative.
You could also put together a box of things to try and cheer them up. However, be realistic. A nice gesture isn’t going to just make them better. If you can, one of the best things to do is get outside and go for a walk in the woods or by the sea. Nature can work wonders for the soul.
People you can contact
- Samaritans (open every day of the year, 24/7)
- 116 123 (UK) or 116 123 (ROI)
- CALM (for men aged 15-25, open every day of the year, 5pm – midnight)
- 0800 58 58 58
- SANE (open every day of the year, 6pm – 11pm)
- 0845 767 8000
- PAPYRUS (for young people, open every day of the year, open from 10am – 10pm on weekdays, 2pm – 10pm on weekends and 2pm – 5pm on bank holidays)
- Phone 0800 068 41 41
- Text 07786 209697
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
REMEMBER, if you are feeling as though you may seriously take your own life or have serious concerns for someone’s wellbeing, call 999.