Depression is one of the worst things that could happen to a person. It could cause mental anguish and impact his or her abilities to carry out even the simplest daily tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences for relationships with family and friends and including the ability to earn a living.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life and in all countries. At worst, depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year olds.
Recently, the Star reported that 4 out of every 10 Malaysians will fall victim to some form of mental health issue in the course of their lives and psychologists believe that the numbers will continue to rise. The article went on to say that depression is not something one can snap out of, just like how people cannot snap out of diabetes or a stroke.
For a person who has not suffered depression, it would be impossible to empathise with a friend or family who is suffering. But the thing is depression exists and it can strike anybody, especially someone that we love and care about. So, if you are trying to help a fellow friend or family member who is having depression, you might want to learn what are the best approaches or appropriate responses because the better we understand depression, the better we will be able to respond and react with wisdom, respect, and compassion.
To begin, here is what you could do;
1.Listen to them
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Most often times, when a friend you care wants to talk, they are not necessarily seeking for advice but simply looking to vent out their frustrations. Instead of being quick to reply or to offer a solution, learn to listen. This is called active listening. By doing this, you could be helping them to let out all that is bottled up inside.
2. Have more open-ended questions
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Having open-ended questions are a good way to start a conversation as it requires more information, rather than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You could begin by asking, ‘Can I know what is the matter?’ or ‘What is troubling you?’
3. Give them a hug
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Now, who doesn’t like a hug? According to happiness weekly, hugs can reduce blood pressure, lower heart rates and decrease stress levels if it is over 20 seconds long. So instead of trying too hard to give your friend an advice, hug them.
Now, what you should not do is…
1.Go MIA or disappear on them when they need you the most
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Dealing with a friend who is depressed is never easy, let alone when all your effort seems pointless, no matter how much you try. Worse still, this could make you more frustrated and overwhelmed. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you have become exhausted and reached your breaking point, do not go MIA or disappear on them. Instead, let them know. Do not give up on them. You may be the only friend or support they have.
2.Do not say get over it. There are a lot of people worse than you.
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The last thing a friend who is depressed would ever want to hear is, get over it. If they could get over it, they would not be going through depression in the first place. So instead of snapping at them, try to empathise and encourage them. By doing this, you are letting them know that you understand their frustration and that you completely support them.
3.Do not say, stop feeling sorry for yourself, you need to let it go
Telling someone to stop feeling sorry for themselves and to let it go will only make them feel sad, ashamed and insecure in their relationship with you. The best way to help is to allow space for emotions, give them the chance to share, instead of trying to control or limit them. This way you could build a stronger bond and trust in your friendship.
Truth is, helping someone who is experiencing depression or anxiety is a challenge. But as a friend or family whom they can trust and rely on, it is important to show them you care by lending a helping hand and offering support. Although you may not be able to take away their depression, you could help them reduce it in the long haul.
According to the latest study linking depression to cancer, The Independent UK reported that anxiety and depression could increase higher chances of a person developing cancer. In commenting on the article and other reports published by the media, the National Health Service (NHS) in England highlighted that having depression might possibly correlate with cancer. Still, the risk of developing cancer could be caused by many other factors, NHS added.
Although it is believed that 1/3 of all cancers can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle, still it is important to take care of your health by going for regular medical screening. Stand up to cancer today. Be protected right from the start with AXA Cancer Care.