Depression manifests itself in many ways – ranging from mild symptoms that have little affect on a persons life, right through to intense symptoms that severely alters a persons mood and behaviour and can ultimately end a life.

We are fundraising in aid of Samaritans by donating £2 from every session booked to help them be there for anyone struggling to cope. Samaritans is a charity working across the UK and Ireland to reduce the number of people who take their own lives and help people who are struggling to cope with how they’re feeling or with life’s challenges.

In light of Mental Health Awareness Week just around the corner and the sad reality that more and more of us are suffering climate change anxiety we are focusing this piece on depression and its many facets. There are things to look out for if you think a friend or colleague may be depressed (as cited on the website for mental health charity, Mind* – depression can present itself in various ways).

A person may feel:

Down, upset or tearful
Low or no self-confidence
Restless, agitated or irritable
Guilty or worthless
Lack of pleasure in things they may otherwise enjoy
Empty or numb
Like things are unreal
Isolated or distant from others
Hopelessness or despair
Suicidal
Tired or lethargic all the time

If someone is depressed, these feelings may cause them to behave in a way that they might not normally.

They may:

Move more slowly than normal or in a way that appears restless
Rely on unhealthy crutches more – like cigarettes, alcohol or drugs
Have a low or non-existent libido
Have difficulty in thinking or speaking clearly
Have difficulty in concentrating or remembering
Have difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep or sleeping too much
Lose their appetite or over-eat
Feel aches or pains with no physical cause
Harm themselves or attempt suicide

Depression can also be linked to other illnesses such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and schizoaffective disorder. It can also go hand in hand with anxiety and some psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations.

Given the complexity of the illness and the nature of the symptoms we realise it can be tricky to navigate the way in which we offer support to someone and sometimes this is by knowing what not to do or say.

Here are some ways in which you can help:

Remove the stigma and tear down the barriers

If you are not scared to talk about it – they are likely to feel less ashamed and more inclined to talk. Talking about it with a confident approach and open mind will help but be mindful not to push someone to talk more than they want to.

Give them the support to get help

They may feel weak or ashamed in asking for help – your approval and enthusiasm might just be enough for them to stop feeling embarrassed. Support and encouragement can help someone feel less alone – a problem shared is a problem halved.

Do not criticise

Depression can sometimes look very different from how it actually feels – if you have not experienced it yourself, it is impossible to know what it’s like. Be mindful that your friend or colleague is not just being dramatic or doing it for attention and they cannot just ‘get over it’ or ‘cheer up’. In fact – using expressions like this can make someone feel even more embarrassed and isolated.

If you don’t understand – don’t pretend you do

Although this is usually done with good intentions – telling someone who is depressed that you understand, when you don’t, can feel like you are trivialising their depression and just paying lip service. Instead – try being honest and explain that you do not understand because you haven’t felt it before but that you believe it is very real and that you want to try and understand more.

Never. Ever. Tell them it’s ‘not that bad’ or ‘it could be worse’

Surprisingly, this is also said with good intentions. Saying to someone that things are ‘not that bad’, ‘could be worse’ or anything to that affect has a profoundly negative impact on someone with depression. How they feel inside cab actually be like a horror show and it really couldn’t be any worse.

Help with chores

If your loved one is depressed they are likely to find everyday tasks as difficult as breathing underwater – even eating and showering can be a monumental undertaking. Try helping them with these tasks because if the jobs pile up they will feel even worse – but be mindful not to take over entirely. Any form or responsibility that they can cope with will ultimately benefit them.

Look after yourself

Caring for someone with depression can take a toll on your own mental and physical health. Make sure you are eating and sleeping well and share the responsibility with another person you both trust. You may also find it beneficial to get support yourself – try talking to a loved one or therapist if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Suicide prevention

If you fear that a colleague, friend or loved one is at risk of suicide you must call a GP or **NHS 111 or encourage them to do so.

If you want to talk to us about wellbeing services we offer to businesses, please get in touch via hello@moaningcow.co.uk or 020 7129 7310.


Photo by Unsplash

* https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/for-friends-and-family/#.XDSwDVz7Tid

** https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/signs-someone-is-depressed/

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