When someone is depressed, it is hard to know what to say and how to help. However, your support can make a vital difference.
Is your relative or friend depressed?
Has the person been persistently sad or losing interest in his or her usual activities? Has there been a change in appetite, disturbed sleep, irritability, tiredness, feelings of worthlessness and poor concentration?
Encourage professional help
Sometimes people do not realise they are depressed. Say that you have noticed a change and are concerned about them.
Suggest they see their GP and go with them if necessary. Professional counselling is of proven benefit. Medication is usually advised for moderate or severe cases.
Urgent treatment is especially important if there are any suicide thoughts or threats.
Other ways you can help
Encourage your relative or friend to talk. Listen in a supportive way and try to understand their feelings. It is usually best not to give direct advice.
Depressed people often withdraw from their usual activities. Encourage them to keep active and do enjoyable things each day, even if they don't feel like it. Daily exercise, regular social contact and stress reduction strategies are all beneficial.
Suggest that they delay important decisions, such as leaving a job, until things improve. It is hard to think clearly when you are depressed.
Encourage them to continue their medication. Antidepressants can take 6-8 weeks to work and are generally continued for at least 6 months. They are not addictive.
Look after yourself!
Living with depression can also be tough for partners and close friends as well. Remember to relax and do things you enjoy. Talk to a friend or your GP about how you feel.
Learn more about depression, so you can understand what is happening. Visit http://www.beyondblue.org.au/, http://www.depnet.com.au/.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.