Recognizing you’re depressed is the first step in getting better and managing the symptoms. Besides seeking professional care, what comes next – talking to other adults or your children – may be just as hard. It may not be easy talking to either, but there are strategies to help you be successful.
“Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.” You may have problems with daily activities or feel life’s not worth the effort, but depression isn’t a point of weakness, and you can’t simply sweep it away. Depression may require long-term treatment.
Depression, particularly in middle-aged or older people, can pair with other severe medical ailments like diabetes, cancer, and many others. These conditions can worsen with depression. Sometimes drugs taken for these physical maladies may trigger side effects that also worsen depression. A doctor who specializes in complex illnesses can help devise the best treatment approach.
Risk factors include:
- Personal or family record of depression
- Big life changes, stress, or trauma
- Particular physical illnesses and medicines
How To Explain Depression
Explaining depression to an adult
Not everyone understands depression or even thinks it’s serious. If you’re suffering from symptoms including sadness, irritability, or trouble eating or sleeping, try these methods:
- Explain depression in broad terms and refer your friend to a legitimate website where it’s discussed in detail.
- Stress that depression isn’t the same as sadness. One will subside on its own (sadness), while the other will persist for weeks and sometimes resist treatment (depression).
- Be clear about the kinds of symptoms you’re dealing with: Constant sadness or anxiety, you’re not interested in things you used to enjoy doing, you eat more or less than you did before, your sleep cycle is disrupted, and sometimes you even think about suicide.
- Explain that depression can happen to anyone regardless of age and gender and that it affects nearly 300 million people worldwide.
- Even if you explain depression in broad terms, don’t be afraid to talk about its consequences. But be patient, and perhaps suggest a time and place to have a casual discussion.
- Consider the ways your loved one could help you and offer a few suggestions to make them comfortable.
Explaining depression to a child
Many adults are apprehensive when talking about depression with another adult, let alone a child. But if you have or otherwise care for a child and daily life is harmed by mental health, you owe it to yourself and your family to explain – in simple terms, if possible – what’s going on. Here are some tips to consider:
- “Be mindful of your child’s developmental stage and tailor the conversation in a way they can easily understand what they must know. With teens, you want to take time to talk about what anxiety or depression is and how it affects you.”
- Be transparent and offer honest answers. Children are smarter than adults think, and it’s even okay to give a matter-of-fact response of “I don’t know” to a particular question.
- Let your child know you’re doing what you can to make things better – seeing a therapist, exercising, taking medication, or trying something else.
- Explain to your child that what’s happening to you is not your fault. Depression happens at many levels and is caused by many factors.
- Let your child know you’re willing to talk again, and they can come to you with questions when they need to.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosis follows a specific path. If your symptoms have gone on unabated for at least two weeks, you may undergo:
- A physical medical exam. A doctor may perform blood tests, x-rays, or other diagnostic procedures to see if there’s an underlying medical cause for your depression.
- A psychiatric evaluation. This is normally conducted by a mental health specialist who will want to know about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. You may be asked to provide a personal and family record of depression.
Symptoms are then compared to criteria in the DSM-5, and your doctor will recommend a treatment plan afterward.
If you’re depressed, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re one of nearly 300 million people with depression worldwide. Depression is a serious medical condition and shouldn’t be ignored. Symptoms like constant sadness and trouble eating or sleeping could lead to worse problems, so don’t be afraid to get treatment. Contact us today to learn more.