depression fog“It’s Depressing Being Depressed.  Is what I’m told.”  

That’s what my mom said. Mom lives with various ongoing medical issues, which include COPD, edema, and surviving double heart valve replacement surgery. Mom is not one to wimp out of anything, or one who just sits around. She is involved in several church related groups, a sewing group, and TOP’s (a weight loss group) and more, that is until the past several months. Over the past 3-4 months, Mom has gone from having minimum 1-2 things a day on her plate to maybe 1-2 things a week. She has over the past 6-7 weeks been cancelling lunches, coffee, even stopped going to church “which is big.” Recently (2-3 weeks) she has started putting off going grocery shopping until absolutely necessary, goes to her sewing group but sits way in the back and interacts very little, and even more recently, does nothing but get up eat, take her meds then goes back to bed. The only thing that gets her out consistently is to walk her dog, Taffy.  

The one that hit me the hardest was when she called 4 hours before Thanksgiving dinner and said, “even though they’re all family, there will be just too many people and too much noise, I just can’t do it.” And with that she stated she would be unable to attend. Insert my water works here.

Now, I also suffer from depression (nowhere near as bad as mom) brought on by a drunk driver caused accident which left me with chronic back pain going on 21 years and told will have for life, so I know a bit of what’s she’s going through.  Her cardiac surgeon at the last appointment stated that the majority of patients that go through a heart surgery end up with depression and she was surprised mom’s took so long to take hold, due to moms heart and lung procedures being so close together, the number of medications she’s on, her weight, and so on. They have her on an anti-depressant, and they’ve doubled the dose four weeks ago, yet it still does not seem to be helping.  The doctor has put her in to change from a psychologist to a psychiatrist. With the number of medications she is on and the large number that can interact with each other, he wants her seeing someone who can look at all of these issues and (1) prescribe the right medication and (2) monitor her and take control if/when she has a reaction.  This is where we are now, playing the waiting game to get an appointment with the new psychiatrist.

So, how do you help someone who won’t talk with anyone, doesn’t know what the underlying problem is, can’t pull themselves up out of bed to get the day going, has shut down everything extracurricular in their lives and has only left spots open for groceries, doctors and maybe sewing club once a week?  What you can do is follow these nine items (taken from an article by Ashlee Davis)

How to Help Someone Who’s Depressed:

1. Realize Treatment is Key – Depression is a medical condition requiring medical care. “You can give care and support, but it’s not going to solve the problem.”

2. Get active in their care – The best thing you can do for someone with depression is support his or her treatment. Let them know that ignoring it will not make it go away.

3. Talk about it – Let them know that you and others care about them and are available for support.  Offer to drive them to treatment or, if they want to talk to you about how they’re feeling, know what to listen for.

4. Stay in contact – Call or visit the person and invite him or her to join you in daily activities.  You may need to work extra hard to support and engage someone who’s depressed.  Routines that promote exercise, nutrition, and a healthy amount of sleep are helpful.

5. Focus on small goals – “Depressive avoidance and passivity can be reduced through activation [to help the person regain a sense of reward] and small goals of accomplishment.”

6. Read all about it – Books about depression can be useful, especially when they are reliable sources of advice or guidance that’s known to help people with depression. Some recommendations include The Feeling Good Handbook, Mind Over Mood, and Overcoming Depression One Step at a Time.

7. Find local services – Use support services in your community or online resources such as National Alliance on Mental Illness to help you find the right specialists to consult on depression treatment.  Some people may not recognize that they’re depressed.

8. Encourage doctor visits – Encourage the person to visit a physician or psychologist; take medications as prescribed; and participate in cognitive behavioral therapy for depression.

9. Pay attention – If the going is rough for him or her emotionally due to martial separation, divorce, job loss, a death in the family, or other serious stress, be ready step in to help.

I hope these tips help you to better deal with, understand, and maybe even help your family member, friend or co-worker with their depression. Remember, all of the above are just a link to number #1: Realize Treatment is Key.  I know for a fact that before I wrote this post, I didn’t know much about depression even though I live with it. The funny thing is, I still don’t know much.  I have only touched the surface of depression, the human mind and all the various twists and turns depression can take from person to person, with medications someone is taking, if they drink alcohol or not, do they do various none prescription drugs, many variables need to be looked at.  Please don’t think you can do it alone and don’t feel it’s not manly to ask for help — you can’t and it’s OK to ask.  Start now so you can be on the right road to, feel, to live, to life.

Richard Kreis
Pain & Humor

Richard Kreis

Blogger, Caregiver, Scheduler, Notary at Pick Your Pain, 24Hr Notary on Wheels
Richard Kreis is a father, husband, brother and son caring for his mom part-time (who suffers from COPD, strokes & more), his brother-in-law who has epilepsy, and his own chronic back pain. He blogs about his experience as a patient advocate and tri-fecta caregiver at PickYourPain.org and is currently working on a new calendar for caregivers with his brother, which will be released in 2016. He also has two black labs, a camp cat, and a large turtle and enjoys meditation, yoga, photography, art, and spending time with his family and pets. Richard is a member of Intake.me's Patient Advisory Board.
Richard Kreis
Pain & Humor