Depression First Aid

In the last blog post, I covered symptoms of depression according to DSM V. I also included Beck’s Depression Inventory (check A little bit about Depression).

So assuming that after reading the previous post, you realised that you may be suffering from depression or someone dear is. What can you do before seeking professional help? The following video is a brief overview of things that can be done:

Living with black dog

Before studying psychology, I was so eager to tell people who are depressed to just be happy and move on. I soon came to realise that it is never that easy. In fact, saying that does not make them feel better and may worsen their symptoms. So, the first tip is DO NOT try to talk them into feeling better.

The second advice is DO NOT JUDGE. Feeling depressed may come with all kinds of irrational thoughts about other people and oneself. Thirdly, in good days, DO NOT BELITTLE their feelings and what they are going through. Suffering from depression does not mean that one is locked up in their room and crying 24/7. Similarly, DO NOT BE OVERLY COMPASSIONATE. Your near one may be suffering from depression, but may not know about it. Even if they do feel that they have lost themselves, they may not want to admit. Being overly compassionate may make matters worse.

Finally, ENCOURAGE them to seek professional help. However, DO NOT NAG or over-involve yourself.

A little bit about Depression

I have had clients being referred to me with chronic back pain and irritable bowel syndrome. It took a few sessions to dig deep and realize that these physical symptoms may be related to depression. Let’s get one thing straight, though. I’m not saying that having back pain or IBS is a symptom of depression. However, depression may be related to these symptoms. So what are symptoms of depression?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder V, criteria for Major Depressive Disorder is as follows:

  • Depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks.
  • Mood represents a change from the person’s baseline.
  • Impaired function: social, occupational, educational.
  • Specific symptoms, at least 5 of the 9 symptoms below, are present nearly daily:
    • Depressed mood or irritable most of the day (feels sad or empty)
    • Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities
    • Significant weight change or change in appetite
    • Change in sleep
    • Change in daily activity
    • Fatigue or loss of energy
    • Guilt/worthlessness
    • Diminished concentration
    • Suicidality

If you think you are experiencing the above, you should seek help. Depression impacts memory, immune system negatively and may even lead to suicide.

An excellent place to start is by taking Beck’s Depression Inventory:

Beck’s Depression Inventory

About living with depression will follow in the next blog post. Stay safe, and remember to do your best to PICK YOURSELF UP.