With depression, one good day doesn't mean permanent recovery. Try not to raise your expectations - if you are disappointed that a good day is followed by a bad day, imagine how the person with depression must feel. Also, try to avoid making comments about it to that person. It may sound like you are trying to focus on the positive, but it will be perceived as an accusation that, at the moment, they are not 'good enough'.
|The black dog can breed.|
|Cheesy, but I like it.|
Don't panic. Having depression doesn't necessarily mean that someone is self-harming. Self-harming doesn't necessarily mean that someone is suicidal. Being suicidal doesn't necessarily mean that they will die. Many people think that discussing self-harm or suicide with someone is generally believed to make them more likely to do it - but this isn't true! Various studies have shown that discussing 'suicidality' has no correlation with suicide rates. In the words of one meta-analysis, 'none (of the studies) found a statistically significant increase in suicidal ideation among participants asked about suicidal thoughts. Our findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce, rather than increase suicidal ideation, and may lead to improvements in mental health in treatment-seeking populations.' If someone talks to you about suicide, don't immediately assume that this is Game Over. At the same time, take them seriously. Discuss it with them and don't be too afraid to show your honest response. People who are suicidal generally think that nobody could ever love them, so try to show them that you do love them - but don't be surprised if they find this hard to understand.
|No it isn't.|
|This is only acceptable if you definitely know how the other person feels - and they will think that you don't.|
|You might feel angry at depression, and even your friend or relative. Don't worry - so do they. Try not to add to it.|
|Competitive woe is unhelpful. Do not dismiss people's fears and concerns, even if they can't actually express those fears and concerns to you.|
|All of these. Urgh!|
Enough of the unhelpful things that you can say and do - what you can you do to help without getting your head bitten off?
First: be present. Sometimes you may find that the person who is depressed is telling you they want to be alone. If they are really vehement in this, then listen to them - other times they are trying to punish themselves by forcing you out. If you do leave them for a bit, stay close by and pop back to check on them. They may well soon want you there. You don't have to do anything or say anything. Having somebody nearby can be enough. This pretty much sums it up (nest building is optional):
|This may be useful.|
|Not a great state of affairs.|
DO know when to ask for help.
You do not have to handle everything alone, or within your family or group of friends. If you are worried and you need more help, these are the people to contact, in ascending order of severity:
- pharmacist - if you think that some simple self-help ideas from a health professional would be useful.
- GP (family doctor) - appropriate if your concern is not urgent but you feel they need more help. The GP can refer to a psychiatrist or prescribe medication by themselves.
- Charities (UK) such as the Samaritans (phone 116 123), Childline (0800 1111) or Mind (0300 123 3393). Most charities can also be emailed and some have live online chat functions if you would prefer not to use the phone.
- NHS Direct (UK) - call 111. They can advise you on if the situation is critical enough to seek urgent care.
- In an emergency (e.g. if you think they are suicidal with an intent to act, or if you know they have self-harmed badly or made an attempt to take their own life) - 999 (in the UK) or drive them to hospital yourself. If they have taken an overdose and you know what they have taken, try to find some packaging to take to the hospital so that you can show the doctors there.
|By Royston Cartoons|