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When a loved one is depressed, it is hard to see them so. But other than medical treatment and counselling, there are a few things you can do too.
The pain is unbearable. The pain of seeing someone close to you going through any illness is bad, but when the illness is depression, the pain is worse.
My mom suffers from depression. She explained how it feels when the cloud of depression descends — the sense of panic that comes over when it is dusk, the suffocative feeling in chest, the headaches that last for few days, the terrible mood swings, the crying jags for no reason, the feeling of drowning in sea. It is terrible to fathom the desperate feeling.
I have seen and observed few of the episodes. In my limited experience some ways I found effective in helping the loved one come out of such episodes are listed below
This is the best way for your loved one to cope. Please listen without judgements. Sometimes you may feel the rambling talks get nowhere but please do not offer solutions. Your loved one is not looking for a solution, they are looking for a validation of your love, of how much they are needed in your life. Limit your interjections and comments to showing encouragement, support and love towards them.
Mild forms of physical exercise like long walks and yoga help a lot. Go with your loved one for walks. Encourage them to go for walks with friends if you cannot go yourself. Yoga is an excellent way to prevent depressive episodes if practiced daily. Pranayama helps a lot to control the headaches.
Inspirational books and CDs provide lot of help in diverting attention of the patient. Get your loved one autobiographies and motivational books of people who have overcome depression. The bewilderment of depression and being alone suffering from this uncommon ailment is too much to take in. When they read or hear about depression, it will help them in coping with this disease. Religious discourses also help many times, to instill faith in oneself.
Watch comedy shows or movies with your loved one. This may help only in the initial stages of the episode but sometimes may help in deflecting a full mode depressive episode. Make it a habit to daily watch some light comedies or humorous shows along with your loved one.
This is meant only for the family not for the person suffering from depression. The common myths associated with depression like ‘depression is a form of madness’ need to be debunked and trashed. Depression is a disease just like heart attack. Many well known people have suffered from depression. Robin Williams and Abraham Lincoln are two famous personalities who suffered from this disease. Some patients may show suicidal tendencies but the family needs to be aware and on the lookout.
Treatments for depression are effective for many patients. In my mom’s case we started with treatment but it was causing side effects like weight gain, and a dependency on medicine for sleeplessness. What I remember of the origin of this disease is when my mom was very stressed out and it started out with insomnia. She started taking sleeping pills for insomnia and became dependent on it. Later on panic attacks, wild mood swings were the other symptoms. She attempted suicide twice but thankfully was unsuccessful in both attempts.
The guilt I have is unbearable- not being there for her in time of her need since I live in another country. But with constant encouragements she is in a better position now. The panic attacks and episodes come, but she knows now that she can overcome them. I am forever indebted to God that she was unsuccessful in her attempts to take her life. May you and your loved one have the strength to beat this disease.
Published here earlier.
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