There are bad days, and there are days where it seems like everything is simply worse than before. For many people, these feelings occur when you are down and could pass as time goes by. However, in some cases these emotions cling on, sometimes for weeks and months. Such prolonged feelings can actually inhibit normal lifestyle.
According to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS, 2019), almost half a million people in Malaysia have depression. With a population of 30 million, it seems likely that you might come across someone with depression.
It can be hard to offer help to those affected, simply because they are often undetected. Societal norms have oversimplified stress and negative feelings. For the vast majority of uninformed people, they would simply say “Eh, shake it off la”, or “It’s just a small matter, don’t be sad”.
1. Recognizing the symptoms
Before you can start to help someone with depression, you must first recognize the symptoms of one afflicted with it. Common signs are:
Changes in sleep patterns and (or) appetite (either too much or too little)
Overwhelming feelings of sadness
Frequent talks on guilt, hopelessness, or even thoughts of death
Lack of energy or feeling tired most of the time
Reclusiveness or prefers to be alone
The most accurate way of knowing is to get a proper diagnosis by mental health professionals. Even a stress, anxiety and depression test online can be an effective way. However, if someone close to you is showing the above symptoms for at least two weeks , then this should not be taken lightly and more attention should be given into it.
2. Have a conversation
Sometimes, the simplest way can be surprisingly effective. If you notice your friend or loved one showing signs of depression, take the initiative to talk with them. Try to show them that they are cared for but avoid being too pushy. If social distancing is an issue, even a quick video chat can work well too!
3. Help them to get support
We understand that there are limitations on what you can do. Sometimes just talking it out simply does not work. In that case, you can always help them find support in the form of therapy, support groups, counselling, medication and more. Many Malaysians avoid seeking help from mental health professionals for fear of being labelled. Helping and encouraging your loved one to make that first appointment can be very helpful. Having a familiar face to accompany them throughout these sessions can make them feel less lonely, and more comfortable too.
4. Take care of yourself too
One thing about depression is that it could potentially affect you as the helper as well. In the process of helping someone with depression, it is important you take care of your own personal mental health. While you try your best to be their pillar of strength and support, you need to take care of yourself as well in order to be an effective helper. You can start by practicing self-care, recognizing your own signs of distress, and try to draw a line on how much it affects you too.
Depression is not something to be ashamed of. Speak with us here at AskPsychologist if you want to know more about how to help someone with depression. We provide online psychological consultancy services and also mental health services in Malaysia.