Establishing what makes good mental health and what can help create it can be incredibly helpful. Whether it’s for friends, family, or people at work, keeping on top of mental health is vital.

However, it’s not hard to let other people’s mental health slip past your attention.

Check up on people in your life, talk to them about how they’re feeling, and give them a safe space to talk through their grievances. These are the ways you can help anyone dealing with depression.

Of course, the first step is identifying whether someone is suffering from depression. This can be tough depending on how you know them. For example, depression in the workplace is tough to overcome, but there are ways that you can help.

What are the signs of depression?

First, it’s important to remember that there aren’t any absolute, clear cut signs of depression.

Not everyone who suffers from it expresses depression in the same way, as some may put a lot of effort into not showing any signs of suffering.

Naturally, this will be incredibly taxing to them.

There are also various forms of depression, such as:

  • Major depression

  • Clinical depression

  • Persistent depression

  • Manic depression

  • Psychotic depression

It is worth noting that there are many different types of depression. Some are more context-specific, such as peripartum depression after childbirth or seasonal affective disorder during colder months.

Despite this difference in types of depression, there are some signs that indicate that someone is suffering from depression. Some are clearer than others, though each one should merit a discussion or catch up to see how the team member is feeling.

These signs of depression include:

  • A lack of enthusiasm or motivation

  • Lack of desire to talk to others

  • Poor personal hygiene

  • Difficulties concentrating, both on short-term and long-term tasks

  • Frequently appears to be tired

  • Engaging in reckless or dangerous behaviour

  • Suddenly altering behaviour, such as starting/resuming smoking or eating poorly

  • Consistently isolating themselves

  • Frequently taking random time off work, not going into work or being late to work

It is always important to ensure that those closest to you aren’t suffering from depression.

Regularly checking up on people, asking how they’re feeling and always making it clear that you’re there to talk can be of great help.

Even if they don’t need to talk or open up about depression then and there, consistently letting them know that you’re available to talk can greatly help.

What are the signs of suicide risk?

One of the greatest risks of depression is for it to lead to suicide. Not all who suffer from depression have suicidal thoughts, but it’s certainly a risk.

Some signs of suicidal thoughts include:

  • Expressing the feeling of being trapped, hopeless or aimless in life

  • Saying how people or the world in general would be “better off without them”

  • Talking about thoughts or plans about ending their life

  • Behaving as if they’re ‘getting their affairs in order’, such as saying their goodbyes to people or giving away beloved items

  • Inexplicably switching from being overtly depressed to calm or happy

It can be incredibly distressing to see a loved one express these behaviours. You should step in to help if a loved one is showing signs of depression, but if they’re showing signs of suicidal thoughts then you will need to talk to them.

How do I help with depression?

When handling depression, it’s important to remember that sometimes there’s a social stigma surrounding the topic. This can be particularly true for men, so approaching the issue will take tact.

Naturally, you will not be expected to be able to handle someone’s depression as well as a trained professional.

However, this shouldn’t prevent you from reaching out to them if you’re concerned though. Simply talking to them can help them open up, you don’t need to be straight forward about their depression (unless it’s become detrimental to their health and life as a whole).

For example, if you’re recognising the signs of depression but they’re still able to conduct daily life, you can approach them casually. Depending on your relationship with them, they may bring up what’s bothering them.

It truly depends on the person and how you interact with them.

However, if someone is unable to fulfil their day-to-day duties, it wouldn’t be untoward to bring up the topic of depression with them.

There are some ways that you can try to help with their depression, such as:

  • Explore the reasons for depression, talk them out, see whether you have any suggestions for helping them through their problems

  • Offering your help finding professional help, whether it’s a paid professional or a free service

  • Talk about whether they can get medication to help

Above all else, be there for them. Trying to help with external assistance is useful, but being there to support them personally will serve as the backbone for all efforts.

Article written by: Alan Hickey

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