Chapter 2: Mental health concerns
Depression – What can help
A combination of medication and counselling are usually recommended for someone who is depressed. Below are some of the things healthcare providers and families can do to help the person with depression. Click on each for more information.
What the healthcare provider can do
Counselling provides an opportunity for the person to talk about their concerns in a supportive, confidential environment. It may be short-term and individually tailored to meet the specific to the needs of the person.
Medication is often successful for treating depression. The main class of medications is called antidepressants. Sometimes psychostimulants are prescribed; these can work relatively quickly to improve a person’s mood and energy level.
Antidepressant medication can take two weeks or longer before the person starts to feel the benefit of the medication. Once they feel better, they might want to stop the medication, but this may result in symptoms coming back. Encourage the person to continue taking their medication as prescribed and to discuss any concerns with their healthcare provider.
families can do
Antidepressant medication takes time to work. Try not to become discouraged if the person doesn’t feel better immediately.
- Avoid becoming isolated, and encourage an activity or a support group if possible. Some of these may be available online.
- Encourage eating well, getting enough sleep, and doing some mild exercise, if able.
- Encourage the person not to make major life decisions while feeling depressed.
- Encourage the person to take their medications regularly.
Experiencing depression and illness can sometimes make people feel that life is no longer worth living. With some help and support, these feelings can start to lessen. Sometimes just talking about things that feel painful can be the first step toward feeling better. Some supports may be available online.
Someone experiencing depression may feel afraid and alone and may not want to discuss how they are feeling. Acknowledge that the person is suffering, and be there to listen. You don’t have to have any answers. Sometimes just acknowledging how difficult things are and listening are the best ways to help.
Encourage the person to go with you on walks or other outings, if they are able.
Sometimes people's energy levels improve before their depressed mood does. This time may have a higher risk for self-harm. Its important
to be aware of this and watch for changes such as becoming more withdrawn or seeming more resolved and at peace.
Sometimes people with depression may talk about taking their own lives. Though it can be distressing to hear this, its important not to ignore any talk of suicide. Talking with them about this can provide a much-needed outlet for people. Sharing this information with their healthcare provider can help to keep the person safe and get the help they need.