The Reality of Dealing with Depression and How To Acknowledge It According To a Psychiatrist
Depression is a silent condition that affects many. But unlike any other illness, it is much harder to be made tangible as it is kept hidden with a smile, or a seemingly happy persona. Oftentimes, we can be quite insensitive to the struggles of people dealing with mental illness; we might heedlessly say, “move on” or “just get over it,” without realizing the repercussions.
In a discussion held at Museo Sanso last May 25 titled “Love in Time of Depression and Loss,” Psychiatrist Dr. Robert Buenaventura talked about recognizing the signs of depression and what we can do to support a loved one dealing with it. With him was grief coach and author, Cathy Sanchez-Babao, who discussed the ways of coping with the grief of losing a loved one under tragic circumstances, and how to channel it positively in one’s life.
Dr. Buenaventura gave the audience a wider understanding on identifying a person who struggles with this common illness. And like any other health condition, addressing the problem or acknowledging the symptoms is the first step towards the healing process.
Cardinal Symptoms of Depression
- Lack of interest
- Changes in sleep and/or appetite
- Restlessness or sluggishness
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate
- Depressed mood
Some of the symptoms may be common emotions making it harder to identify the problem without a proper diagnosis. Though, if you think that you might know someone experiencing these symptoms, encourage them to seek professional help and provide them with genuine support through every step of the way. By addressing the issue as early as possible, it may already be a great help in preventing future episodes.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room—suicide. Studies show that suicide is considered a primary psychiatric emergency that needs to be attended to immediately. Suicide is associated with feelings of hopelessness and is often a cry for help. Suicidal thoughts are not particular to people who are depressed, but if you look at 90% of those who commit or attempt suicide, most of suffer from a depressive disorder. An estimate of 804,000 deaths were caused by suicide in the year 2012 and is also the leading cause of death between ages 15-29. In the year 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.53 million will die from suicide making that 1 death every 20 seconds.
In this modern age, we stumble upon many articles and even songs about suicide. Through the doors of different organizations on the internet, more people are speaking out about their issues, which helps bend the stigma around it. Now that people are becoming more aware of this problem, how do we fully grasp the reality of the condition and be a source of hope for these people in need?
Psychiatrist Dr. Bueneventura shared his expert suggestions on how to help someone with suicidal tendencies.
1. Your presence is critical
You must never leave the person alone especially after a recent attempt. Remain in control of the situation and make sure that you express empathy to your loved one who is in need of your presence. Making them feel that they are not alone will make a huge difference.
2. Listen more than speak
Do not argue with the person who’s experiencing the struggle. It is important that you listen more than you speak because they need to feel that they’re being understood. By genuinely listening to them, you’ll be able to further understand the roots of their pain.
3. Stay non-judgmental
Most of the time, people who go through this struggle are afraid to speak up out of fear of being judged. When they start to open up about the issues, stay open-minded and be sensitive with your words.
4. Be as honest as possible
Be as honest as possible by acknowledging their illness and encouraging them to seek professional help. Being physically present for them helps in a big way, but the process of healing starts by accepting that you or someone you care about is suffering and in need of an expert opinion.
5. Say encouraging words
Words of encouragement should be chosen wisely and do not disregard the fact that their feelings are more fragile than those of others. Make sure to be sensitive and reassure them that suicidal feelings are treatable with the proper prognosis.
6. Give reassurance that help is available
Nowadays, a lot of organizations are in quest of aiding those dealing with suicidal tendencies. Know that it can be prevented or treated with the immediate assessment of an expert, by providing the proper medications and forms of therapy. If someone you care about is going through a difficult time acknowledging their struggles, it is best to always reassure them they are not alone in this journey and that help is present.
If you are (or if someone you know is) thinking about suicide or self-harm, please remember that help is a phone call away. In the Philippines, please call suicide prevention hotlines: Department of Heath Mental Health at 904 – HOPE (4673), 0917 – 558 – HOPE (4673); In Touch Crisis Line +63 2 893 7603, +63 917 800 1123, +63 922 893 8944; and National Center For Mental Health Crisis Hotline, 0917 – 899 – USAP (8727), 989 – USAP (8727) #suicideprevention #suicidepreventionhotline
Photos from @nananadal