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Over the past twenty years, thanks to the enormous progress made by psychiatry and the dissemination of better scientific information, depression has been partly removed from the heavy veil of carelessness and prejudice it was shrouded in the past. Every mind has a question in depression how to help. Nonetheless, in the common personal feeling even today, depression is often confused with sadness or dejection, "normal" moods, generally reactive to negative life events, always short-lived and which in any case do not affect normal development. of daily activities. The  clinical depression , however, is a real mental disorder, known since ancient times, which manifests itself with a major downturn in mood accompanied by characteristic changes in the level of energy, modes of thinking and somatic functioning.

As for the other diseases, the principle that every person and every suffering represents a case in itself is valid. On the basis of our experience and taking into account the stories and questions that the family members of those suffering from depression ask us, it is possible to give some useful tips for managing daily life to those who live next to a depressed person.

Understanding Depression how to help and Overcoming Prejudices

Many of the difficulties encountered in staying close to those suffering from depression derive from the apparent invisibility of the disorder aggravated by the survival of numerous prejudices.

Since there are no blood tests, radiography or investigation techniques capable of highlighting a depressive state, it can be difficult for the layman to understand that it is a real pathology and not a state of mind or a passing feeling.

But if that were the case we would all be depressed!

The tendency to attribute depression to character or external circumstances, the result of the lack of scientifically correct information, worsens the feelings of guilt, frustration and the feeling of not being understood and, ultimately, aggravates the state of suffering of those who are already bad. Accepting that depression is a disease like many others, even if with invisible symptoms and in some cases difficult to understand, therefore represents the first real help for those who suffer from it and the only one that will legitimize them as a suffering person and not weak or from bad temper.

A second frequent mistake is to consider those suffering from depression to be simply sad, dejected or, even worse, lazy, "weak of character", "unable to react to difficulties". Depression does not depend on one's will, no one is responsible for it and it is not true that  "he does not give it all", "he does it on purpose", "after all he takes advantage of it" , that  "it would be better if only you forced a little ", or that  " should react as I did that time .

To an outside observer it may seem incredible that an apparently healthy person cannot make it to work and spends hours and hours in an armchair, refusing even to go for a walk, go to the cinema or see their closest friends. Yet for those who suffer from depression it is so , indeed the lack of energy and the loss of will are the very essence of their pathology.

Sometimes practical and concrete help, such as preparing him a hot drink or bringing him medicines with a little water, can be more useful than many words. And when you don't know what to say or do, listen to him and stay close to him: a silent but emotionally involved closeness often proves to be of great comfort.


A clinical psychiatrist expert in depression how to help his patients

There are several sub-types of depression , different from each other in how they manifest ("symptoms") and how they evolve ("course"), which require differentiated treatments.

For cure it is therefore preferable to trust on a psychiatrist with special expertise in this pathology who is able to identify, among the various options currently available, the best cure for that special type of depression in that special patient personal treatment..

Collecting possible information, talking to the family personal doctor, contacting associations for patients and family members of those suffering from depression, are the easiest ways to get to a doctor who will diagnose the most suitable treatment for the current depressive episode and, if necessary, to prevent possible relapse. We must keep remember, in fact, that depression tends to relapse in more than half of the cases.

In the medium and severe forms, the first choice therapy is pharmacological; The  psychotherapy  can be a useful support to the drugs for support in the acute phase, for the management of any psychological problems and probably (there are ongoing studies) to reduce the risk of relapse. In mild forms it is possible to start treatment with psychotherapy which will then be integrated with drugs in case of insufficient response.

Maintain regular treatment

Once the trusted clinician has been identified, help your relative maintain regular contact with the psychiatrist, remind him of appointments, urge him to communicate any side effects of the drugs as well as any important changes in symptoms (for example, a significant increase or decrease in the hours of sleep, the appearance of irritability, a sudden return to a state of well-being ...).

Provided that the person agrees, accompany him to the visits both because going there alone, due to his state, could cost him excessive effort and lead him to give up, and because your observations can be useful to the specialist to better fine-tune the cure.

Encourage the initiation and continuation of treatment

Once treatment has begun, it takes an average of 2-3 weeks to see the first improvements and in some cases, depending on the type of depression and personal sensitivity, even more (up to few months). This latent period can lead people with depression, which in themselves are prone to pessimism, to consider the therapy useless and therefore to interrupt it or to take it irregularly.

Help your relative to carry out the treatment with confidence: take the drugs, wait the necessary time for them to work and, in case of unsatisfactory results, keep in mind that there are many types of antidepressants so finding the right one for him may require more than one attempt. Urge him to communicate his status to the psychiatrist who can change the doses, replace the drug or add another .

Drug therapy for depression requires work similar to that of a tailor who, before delivering a dress, needs to make tests, adjustments and minor adjustments.

Find out about any side effects of drugs and collaborate in their management (for example, if you have a dry mouth, do not miss out on sweets; if you gain weight, opt for a light cuisine). Furthermore, if your family member suffers from other physical ailments, such as hypertension or diabetes, help him to follow the related therapies regularly to avoid that, due to pessimism and the tendency to neglect himself, there is a worsening of the general medical conditions with all the potential negative consequences that this entails.

Finally, remember that your support for treatment does not end with the end of the episode. As previously mentioned, some types of depression present with recurrent episodes and it is therefore necessary to ensure, with discretion and without being oppressive, that the drugs are taken for the time and at the prescribed doses even in the presence of a state of well-being in order to prevent any relapses.



Depression how to help in everyday life

Depression dramatically changes the lifestyle of those who suffer from it: even those who were tireless, cared for and active before, now avoid commitments, neglect their person, stay in bed late, lose their appetite.

While it is not always easy , it is important to help him maintain a minimum regularity in daily activities such as washing, changing clothes, not skipping meals. It does not matter if these activities are carried out reluctantly and passively, the goal is that the small daily tasks are carried out.

Since depression generally improves in the afternoon-evening, these are usually the most suitable times of the day to try (without forcing your hand too much) to involve your loved one in one of his favorite activities or, for example, go out for a short walk (many clinical studies report that light but regular physical activity has a positive effect on depression), watching television, reading an article together.

Postponing important decisions

Those suffering from depression see reality through the filter of pessimism and can make rash decisions dictated by deeply negative moods, sometimes dominated by ideas of doom.   Suggest that your spouse postpone any important decisions (for example, breaking up a relationship, changing jobs or quitting, making a big sale) until, once the depression is resolved, they can see things in their proper light again. In many cases these suggestions prove to be precious to protect him from possible disastrous consequences in the sentimental, economic, work or legal fields.

Getting back into social life

It is very hard for people who have depression to maintain a  good social life. Once the most acute phase is over, however, it is advisable to help your loved one to get out of isolation and to resume relationships little by little, starting with the most trusted relatives and friends. Many scientific studies also confirm the usefulness of participating in self-help groups for the depressed. These groups offer the opportunity to meet those who are in a similar condition, to share similar experiences and difficulties in a non-pressing context that allows you to freely shows personal emotions and  personal feelings with the certainty of being understood and supported.

Encourage your loved one to attend a group and accompany them if they think they can't go alone.



Don't forget yourself

Being close to someone with depression can be very exhausting / emotionally demanding. In fact, in addition to all the limitations that the assistance of a person with an important physical illness entails, it is also necessary to take into account the psychological burden of fighting with an apparently "invisible" disorder that sometimes responds so slowly to treatment that in some moments "nothing seems to help".

While deeply respecting the suffering and the need for tranquility of those who are ill, it is important for you and for him to ensure that your social life and that of the family, even if at a reduced rate, continue.

Therefore, plan regular outings for shopping or to go to the cinema, as well as organize a dinner with family members or a meeting with friends from time to time. Even if your loved one doesn't feel like participating, the fact that life at home continues will make him feel less guilty .

Finally, if you feel the need to share with others your experiences, moods and frustrations will surely benefit from participation in g broke self-help for family members of people with depression organized by some charities.

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