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How to help someone with depression

Depression, labelled by World Health Organization as the leading cause of disability affects an estimate of 34 percent people in Pakistan.

About one in four Pakistanis suffer from mental health problems.

Depression is affecting every class of society in one way or the other. Depression makes one lose interest or pleasure in their usual activities, feel worthless, isolate themselves from society, face irritability, fatigue, sleep problems, and have thoughts of death or suicide.

Low income countries like Pakistan face tough challenge in this respect where only a low percentage is allocated to health services. As depression is the root cause of many mental disorders and sickness, there is a need to aid development on tackling anxiety and depressive disorders on a national level in Pakistan.

However, in Pakistan, even on societal level depression is not seen as an illness but a stigma or a medical condition which a person can just get out of if he/she wishes to.

For a person suffering from depression, it is very important, first, for his loved ones to help him out of it.

Know that depression is an illness, not a choice.

The first major step of helping someone with depression is to recognize that your loved one is, indeed, suffering from this painful, exhausting and lonely illness they need to get treated for which they would want the help and support of their close friends and family.

It is not a weakness or a personality flaw or a choice which they can just, “snap out” of. By understanding that depression is a real illness, you will be able to better support your loved one with compassion, patience, and an open mind.

Be there

A depressed person can feel that he is in a dark tunnel with no light at the end of it, all alone; feel that he is going through a condition nobody can understand.

It is critical for a loved one to communicate to him that they are there for him and he are not in this journey alone. A simple loving touch, holding of hands, kiss on the forehead, a warm hug or quietly just hearing him out can mean so much. Do more listening than talking.

Encourage them for professional help

Sometimes, it may be too hard for people to accept that they are indeed suffering from depression or it is something they need help for. Or, they may not be able realize that they are suffering from it while it is rare for depression sufferers to get better without treatment. Professional help is a friend must needed by a sufferer in such times.

Let them know that depression isn’t their fault

Just like cancer or aid patients don’t choose to have any of those diseases, neither does a depression patient. It is important for the ones suffering from it to know that. Because of increased feeling of guilt due to the condition, sufferers may feel that it is something they may have done wrong for which they are being punished.

Challenge their thoughts

There can be a lot of destructive thoughts crossing a depressed person’s minds. There may be days they won’t feel like living or a day when they feel completely unloved.

Challenge these untruths with the truth. Tell them you love them, tell them what life has to offer to them, show them the beautiful, positive side of it all.

No matter how hard it may seem in the beginning, depression has a cure if handled and catered to with love, care and adequate treatment. It is treatable and that’s exactly what our loved ones are looking for.

Reach out to help.

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