This post has taken me five days just to get to the point of sitting down and to start on it, that’s how hard it has been for me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not discounting the original statement which was recently made by my mom who is dealing with, per her doctor, major depression which has made its way into her life slowly. She had a double heart valve replacement surgery a handful of years ago, along with various on going medical issues which include COPD, edema and more. 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, TOP’s (weight loss group) and more, that is until the past several months.
Over the past three to four months, Mom has gone from having minimum one to two things a day on her plate to maybe one to two things a week. She has over the past six or seven weeks been canceling lunches, coffee, even stopped going to church, “which is big.” Recently, 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. She does nothing but get up eat, take her meds, then goes back to bed, she does go to her doctor appointments and walks her dog, Taffy (the only thing that gets her out constantly). The one that hit me the hardest that pushed me to write this post was, she called four hours before Thanksgiving dinner and said, “Even though all family will be there, it’s 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 whats shes 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 Mom’s heart and lung procedures so close together, the number of medications shes on, her weight, etc.
They do have her on a anti-depressant which they doubled the dose about 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 he 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.
Mom has finally received a list of the Tricare approved psychiatrist in the area which comes out to eleven. Of those that have called her back so far, three are not taking new patients, one is no longer in business, three do not accept Tricare Insurance and the final four still have to return her calls.
So, how do you help someone who won’t talk with anyone, doesn’t know what the underlying problem is, can’t pull herself’s up out of bed to get the day going, has shut down everything extra curricular in her life 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 listed in an article How to Help Someone with Depression by Ashlee Davis on Health.com:
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, it 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, like 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. Check with the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies or the American Psychological Association to locate psychologists and medical centers’ psychiatry departments.
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.
10. 10 Things to Say (and 10 Not to Say) to Someone With Depression is another great resource.
I hope these tips help you to better deal with, understand, 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 and 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. It’s okay to ask. Start now so you can be on the right road to, feel, to live, to life.
- Do You Think Your Wife Is Depressed? (caregiving.com)
- Guidelines Help with Difficult Medical Decisions (caregiving.com)
- Are We Doing the Right Thing? (caregiving.com)
- Tell Us: When Have You Deferred on a Doctor’s Recommendation? (caregiving.com)
- 10 Tips for Family Caregivers: Richard’s Last 10 Tips (caregiving.com)
- Little Difference in Caregiving Responsibilities Between Working and Non-Working Family Caregivers (caregiving.com)
- 10 Tips for Family Caregivers: Preparing for Appointments (caregiving.com)
- It’s Never Too Late To Start Over! (caregiving.com)
- A Mini Update (caregiving.com)