With the news of celebrity deaths such as those of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, we are learning that awareness on mental health is becoming crucial. Mental illness knows no social class or gender preference. Depression can hit us all. We thought we would start opening the conversation about depression by first filling you in on the basics - what are the signs that someone might be depressed, and what are some things that might help.
Signs of Depression in Other People
If you think you know someone with signs of depression, here’s what to look out for:
- They’re more distant, they keep to themselves, and don’t quite engage in conversation like they used to
- They’re constantly lethargic
- They aren’t as productive anymore for example if they’re in school or have work, they start falling behind on deadlines
- They have crying spells
- They oversleep or have insomnia and don’t get enough sleep
- Their appetite isn’t as good as it used to be
- They’re never in the mood to do anything - especially something that requires a lot of energy
If you suspect someone is hiding their depression, they may be like this:
- They mask their depression with fake laughs and smiles
- They’re very self-deprecating and go on to joke about it although it’s actually how they feel
- They sign themselves up for a lot of things and appear to be productive though they don’t really finish whatever they’ve started on or it takes a long time to do so
- They usually respond with “I’m fine.” when asked how they are, then proceed to change the subject
- They’re irritable even with the slightest things
- They beat themselves up or appear to be apathetic whenever they don’t get to do something as well as they want it to turn out
The Do’s and Don’ts of How to Talk to Someone who has Depression
Here are some things you shouldn’t do or say to a person dealing with depression:
Don’t say “You’re being selfish, “you’re only thinking about yourself or you’re not trying hard enough.” Don’t shove optimism down their throat. It feels more like a mockery more than anything. Don’t suggest trying out an absurd new hobby that will somehow spontaneously “cure” their depression. Don’t overcompensate and say you’ve been through it, it was a phase, and you got over it if you haven’t really experienced depression.
So when you come across someone with depression, tell them they’re doing great. Tell them you see them. Tell them that if they’re not okay, that’s totally fine. That they don’t have to be okay in front of you. That they can be this garbled mess so far away from what the media likes to depict as beautiful. Tell them they’re alive. Remind them that they’re alive and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. That it’s okay if all they did that day was survive and that in itself is a huge accomplishment. You have to understand that you’ll never understand it completely unless you’ve experienced it for yourself and that there are varying degrees that can range from mild to severe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help someone because you should help - help if you can.
Nan is a contributing writer to Healing Minds PH. She is a young professional who is passionate about raising mental health awareness through the stories she encounters. Nan will be tackling experiences of young individuals who may be experiencing mental illness as she aims to help more and more people understand what it's like to step into their shoes.