The first step toward defeating depression is to define it. But people who are depressed often have a hard time thinking clearly or recognizing their own symptoms. They may need your help. Check the following to see if a friend or friends have had any of these symptoms persisting longer than two weeks.
Do they express feelings of
Do they seem
- Sadness or "emptiness?"
- Hopelessness, pessimism, or guilt?
- Helplessness or worthlessness?
Do they complain of
- Unable to make decisions?
- Unable to concentrate and remember?
- To have lost interest or pleasure in ordinary activities - like sports or band or talking on the phone?
- To have more problems with school and family?
Has their behavior changed suddenly so that
- Loss of energy and drive - so they seem "slowed down?"
- Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting up?
- Appetite problems; are they losing or gaining weight?
- Headaches, stomach aches, or backaches?
- Chronic aches and pains in joints and muscles?
Have they talked about
- They are restless or more irritable?
- They want to be alone most of the time?
- They've started cutting classes or dropped hobbies and activities?
- You think they may be drinking heavily or taking drugs?
If you answered yes to several of the items, a friend may need help. Don't assume that someone else is taking care of the problem. Negative thinking, inappropriate behavior or physical changes need to be reversed as quickly as possible. Not only does treatment lessen the severity of depression, treatment also may reduce the length of time (duration) your friend is depressed and may prevent additional bouts of depression.
- Suicide - or have they attempted suicide?
If a friend shows many symptoms of depression, you can listen and encourage him or her to ask a parent or teacher about treatments. If your friend doesn't seek help quickly, talk to an adult you trust and respect - especially if your friend mentions death or suicide.
There are many places in the community where people with depressive disorders can be diagnosed and treated. Help is available from family doctors, mental health specialists in community mental health centers or private clinics, and from other health professionals.
Information from NIMH
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