Living with Depression

How to cope and live happily with depressed people
           A depressive disorder is regarded as a top ranked psychological illness.

    It originates from two major factors, the biological factor or heredity, which is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain passed from parents to offspring. It also includes environmental factors, which are derived from emotional tension.

          For example, childhood depression can be attributed to family stress, trauma, or high expectations of study beyond one's ability.

          Neurotic depression involves severe trauma during childhood that can be detonated later in life.

          Age depression rises due to impaired self adjustment ability, social isolation, a generation gap between parents and children or depression after retirement _ loss of self-esteem due to becoming inactive and a feeling of incompetence.

          This also includes a reactive depression such as depression after the death of a spouse, loss of a job or divorce.

          Depressive disorder related to fatigue involves the reaction to chronic stress such as severe marital conflicts, tensions from high responsibilities of a job, change of a job or an excessive burden.

          Fatigue depression tends to take place with women who have to shoulder burdens by working both inside and outside the house.

          It also happens to men aged between 50 and 60 who are under pressure to reach a career peak.

          For those family members or close friends who are not aware whether or not someone is depressed, there are some simple things to look out for which can guide us to save, care and then live happily together.

          1. Thought-changing behaviour is characterised by a tendency to think negatively all the time. Those who suffer this symptom are prone to be desperately pessimistic. They always feel guilty and develop a sense of low self-esteem. In some cases, they think their symptom is incurable. The patients want to harm themselves and finally try to commit suicide.

          2. Behaviour stemming from changes in learning or working is marked by a loss of interest or pleasure in the surrounding environment _ even sexual pleasure. People easily feel tired and work more slowly than usual. The quality of their work falls. The have no concentration, develop memory loss and experience poor decision making.

          3. Behaviour originating from emotional changes is rather evident. Patients always feel depressed and worry constantly. They are easily nervous, infuriated, angry, restless and anxious.

          4. Behaviour such as insomnia, waking up early, or in some cases sleeping too much, loss of appetite, loss of weight, eating too much and then gaining weight. Physical symptoms cannot be cured by normal medication such as headaches, stomach discomfort after eating, chronic pain, and interpersonal relationship deterioration.

          We have to keep monitoring ourselves and people close to us whether or not they have got one of these disorders in the past few weeks.

          If we find at least four symptoms, we need to be more careful about our thoughts and try to pull ourselves away from unfavourable circumstances.

          We have to caution ourselves to be conscious of what we are doing and thinking. If you are aware that you cannot stop thinking about something or feel so desperately helpless that you no longer want to live, at this point you have to muster your courage and strength in order to give yourself a chance, looking for ways to vent your thoughts and feelings.

          But to give yourself a fighting chance you need to open your heart to someone you are confident can give you a hand, or you need to directly consult a psychological specialist so you can safely and effectively deal with the ongoing depression.

          Some suggestions for the depressed

             1. Don't set a high goal that is too hard for you to achieve or don't take too much responsibility.
            2. Sort out the problems and prioritise them and then start to do what you can.

            3. Don't try to force yourself or set a goal too high because it may aggravate your sense of failure


           4. Try to join activities with others.

          5. Choose an activity which makes you feel better _ and it must not be too tough _ such as doing light

              exercise, watching movies or participating in social activities.

           6. Don't make any decisions that are crucial to your life at this moment like quitting a job, getting
              marriedor divorcing without asking opinions from people close to you. If you need a consultant, that
              person must know how to analyse the situation in a just manner and, more importantly, must be
             neutral. If possible, you should postpone your decision-making until your depressive disorder improves
             and you are getting back to normal.

           7. Don't blame or punish yourself when you do not succeed in doing something. It is not your fault.

          8. Don't acknowledge pessimistic thoughts which occur during a period of depression as a real part of
             yourself. They are part of the disease or illness and they will disappear when the symptom is cured.

          9. Depressed people need help from others but very often those around them don't understand their illness
             and may react in the opposite way, ultimately their help may unwittingly aggravate the symptoms.

          How to help a depressed person

          People often do not realise a loved one has a depressive disorder so it is possible that what they do can worsen the situation. Consequently, the patients get worse.

          By nature, this illness is based on negative thinking. Generally, people around them do not get the point so they fail to give the patients moral support. On the contrary, they make their symptoms worse.

          We cannot stop the depressed people from thinking negatively because even they themselves do not know how to stop it.

Naturally, depressed people have less strength both physically and mentally. They are vulnerable to all life aspects including work and interpersonal relationships. As a result, they cannot function normally.

          If we notice that people around us develop behavioural changes and are subject to depression or depressive disorders, do not look at it negatively or pessimistically.

          We should open our hearts and find ways to help them as much as we can because this illness severely affects people, even though they simply seem anxious.

  Ways we can help them

          1. Emotional support is the key. So we should listen to their problems and try to understand their behaviour with great patience and care.

          2. Listen to their problems attentively and caringly. Don't show annoyance or contempt. Moreover, we need to clarify and inform them about the real facts.

          3. Persuade the patient to join social activities or start a hobby. But we should not push it too hard or too quickly for the patients to catch up because it might arouse a sense of low self-esteem and incompetence in them.

          4. Don't demand the patient recovers quickly. Don't blame them for pretending or being lazy. Remember, even though a patient is receiving treatment, they still need time to recover.

BangkokPost, myfamily November 4, 2010   
By Dr Surachai Kuasirikul   
Position: A psychological specialist at Manarom Hospital.