Having a family member with depression necessitates that you know more about depression so that you can recognize the severity and arrange for help if required. Moreover, these patients need constant encouragement for compliance to medication. They also need to be heard and not judged. To achieve all this, the caregiver must endeavor a lot of patience with the family member.
Knowing About Depression
It is a complex condition. Several risk factors have been identified namely genes, hormone levels, environmental triggers, some medicines, death of a loved one, physical or emotional abuse. A circumstantial nervousness or sadness is not depression. However, when it lasts longer than two weeks, and the person is not able to overcome it, medical help should be sought.
Typically, depression includes these symptoms – feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness. At times, the person feels like crying profusely otherwise may keep getting angry and irritated over petty things. They may become restless and anxious or sluggish and feel lost. They often may complain of physical pains of some or the other kind. The person may be disinterested in any activity even the one which is of his or her interest. The person may frequently feel tired and fatigued. They either have problems falling asleep or sleep too much. Likewise, they overeat or don’t like eating at all which may lead to weight gain or weight loss. There is a deep-rooted feeling of being unimportant or ‘good for nothing’ or some guilt for some incidents in the past that they are not accountable for. They find it difficult to concentrate, become indecisive and forgetful. They may have unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.
If the condition remains untreated or neglected, it may worsen, and the patient may have suicidal thoughts or even attempt suicide.
Since the condition has many faces to it, awareness and education regarding the disease are essential for the patients’ family members.
Ways that may Help You to Support Your Depressed Family Member
Firstly, as soon as you become aware of the condition strike a conversation with the person. Listen to what he or she has to say. Don’t judge them or give negative opinions. Let them know your observations and that you are concerned. If the person is not aware, convince him or her that depression is a condition which needs expert advice and treatment and that it is vital to see one. The person should be assured that the condition that may not go away on its own and needs treatment. Once he agrees to visit a doctor, get the person to jot down his feelings and status of mind so that it is easier for him to explain to the doctor. If possible accompany the person to the doctor. Most of the times doctors also need inputs from the family regarding their behavioral patterns.
When the treatment starts, keep a quiet tab on the use of medicines. Initially, you may have to give the medication yourself to the patient. Gradually as the patient feels better, he gets more convinced that he needs the medication. After that, you can rely on him for taking his medicines and appropriate, timely refills.
Engage the person in activities that he or she used to like normally. Experiment on activities that lift their mood and keep those that put them off away. Stay around or ensure someone is around always. Don’t keep brooding over their condition with your other family members, friends, and relatives that may worsen their feeling of guilt or further frustrate them. Help them to make certain decisions or complete certain tasks which they find difficult without them losing their confidence.
Sometimes the person’s condition may worsen, and he or she may have a suicidal tendency. They would generally start talking negative things and about their wish of living no longer. They may even make multiple calls to people and talk as their last. They may start giving away things even the ones they loved. Would be wanting to be left alone. It is essential you pick these hints and seek medical help.
As a precautionary measure, get rid of all things that the person can use to inflict self-harm. Don’t leave the person alone. Whenever you are in such a situation, seek help from emergency and have people around to help in case something goes out of your control. Seek medical help immediately. You may have to hospitalize the patient for further treatment and care.
The condition does improve with appropriate treatment, though it may take time. So most importantly one needs to keep one’s spirits high and remain hopeful and calm.
Disclaimer: The above information has been prepared by a qualified medical professional and may not represent the practices followed universally. The suggestions listed in this article constitute relatively common advice given to patients, and since every patient is different, you are advised to consult your physician, if in doubt, before acting upon this information. Lupin Limited has only facilitated the distribution of this information to you in the interest of patient education and welfare.