October 10 is World Mental Health Day, a time to call attention to mental health education and advocate for transparency. In honor of this day, The Calli Institute wants to share helpful information on what it means to live with depression and how it can affect a close friend or loved one. Our hope is that doing so will help others better understand how to discuss depression and offer support to family or friends. With encouragement and support, those living with depression can begin their journey toward recovery.

Defining and Detailing Depression

Depression is a common mental health condition that affects approximately 280 million people worldwide. Someone living with depression may feel helpless, irritable, angry, hopeless, self-loathing, chronically tired, or fatigued. And they may feel all of that at once. It’s also common for a person living with depression to develop an anxiety disorder or vice versa.

Common Depression Misconceptions

Common misconceptions about depression often impede one’s ability or willingness to discuss their feelings or seek help. We need to recognize and address the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Depression is Just a Phase. On the contrary, depression is a serious disorder that affects a person’s energy level, motivation, and feelings toward others or how others feel toward them. Though treatable, symptoms of depression can persist throughout a person’s lifetime, so it’s not something someone can simply “get over.” A combination of medication management and individual therapy may be necessary to help regain the optimism and energy needed to improve mental health and wellness.

People Don’t Want to Talk About Their Depression. Approaching the subject may be difficult, especially if it concerns a friend or a loved one. Questions may arise, such as:

  • How do I begin the conversation?
  • What if I offend my friend?
  • Will I trigger a negative reaction if I bring it up?

While everyone experiences depression independently, being encouraged to talk about it will greatly impact one’s ability to cope with symptoms and ask for help.

The best way to start the conversation may be to ask your friend how long he or she has been feeling a certain way. Or perhaps mention that you’ve noticed they seems down lately, and you wanted to check in. Initially, your friend may be hesitant to talk. But having that open line of communication and checking in with an attitude of hope and support will help make it easier to begin the conversation.

If someone is showing signs of risky behaviors — thoughts of suicide, recklessness toward their health and safety, extreme signs of hopelessness — contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline for immediate support and help.

Depression is a Mindset You Can Change. We all experience sadness over a breakup, job loss, death in the family, or other unfortunate happenings. That sorrow is an essential part of the grieving process. But when these feelings persist for longer periods and begin to affect our daily routines, relationships, and self-worth, that’s a bigger and more concerning issue. At that point, we’re experiencing depression. And the longer it goes unaddressed and untreated, the more troublesome it becomes.

Helping Through the Journey

Anyone living with depression can often feel helpless and alone. Understanding the signs and symptoms of this mental health condition and how it can impact a friend or loved one is the first step toward learning how to approach depression and offer support. The Calli Institute encourages you to reach out to a anyone who may be experiencing symptoms of depression. Especially today, it is important to show those who are struggling that you’re here to support them throughout their journey toward recovery. If you need additional assistance or resources, we’re always here.

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