Do you ever get suspicious when someone says that they are suffering from depression? Do you feel that it is just an excuse to get out of taking responsibility for their behavior?
You are not alone. Most people who have never experienced clinical depression have a hard time understanding the behaviors of a depressed person. How can you understand a person suffering from clinical depression and differentiate it from a person just not taking the responsibility? October is depression awareness month and a good time to learn a little about this silent illness. In this blog series on depression, I will share a few stories with you to give you insight and to break some myths associated with this ailment.
For today’s story, let's learn with Andrew. He is a 30 yr old male who has never experienced depression in his life. He has been sad at times, after losing someone or something, but he has always been able to pull himself out of a depressed mood within minutes. He is a healthy, fit adult, and feels invincible. He works as a supervisor in a small construction company. When one of his crew members, John, developed depression; Andrew almost lost respect for John. He thought that John is just trying to get out of his responsibilities. He felt that John had become lazy, although he knew that John was one of the most productive members of his crew in the past. As John’s absences increased and productivity decreased, Andrew became frustrated. Instead of lashing out, he decided to learn more and figure out how can he help and make John productive again.
In his research, he came across a video that was a part of the World Health Organization ( WHO)'s "Depression: let's talk" campaign. He was most touched by the video by writer and illustrator Matthew Johnstone on the signs and effects of depression. “ I had a black dog; his name was Depression. “ (you can also view more helpful videos about depression )
He realized why John went from the most productive member of the team to not being able to function at a basic level. Why he was frequently absent and not producing at his previous capacity. Andrew’s reaction changed. He sat down and talked with John. When Andrew said, “I realize how you must be feeling, let’s take steps to help you get better,” John felt a new motivation to get better. Andrew allowed John to take time off to attend to his doctor’s appointments. He allowed him to modify his work to decrease his stress level. As John worked in psychotherapy and took antidepressant medications, he started getting better. It took some time, but John was back to his previous level of functioning and became an asset for Andrew’s team again.
As a leader, Andrew wanted to remain alert to any signs of depression in his crew members, so he could help them get help in the initial stages. He learned about the Campaign to Change Direction.
The goal of the Campaign to Change Direction is to change the culture of mental health in America so that all of those in need receive the care and support they deserve. The Campaign encourages all Americans to pay attention to their emotional well-being – and it reminds us that our emotional well-being is just as important as our physical well-being.
He took the Pledge with the Campaign to know the five signs.
Know the Five Signs that may mean someone is in emotional pain and might need help:
When his wife started having depression, he saw the five signs. When he mentioned the possibility of depression, his wife initially resisted. She said, “Do you think “I am crazy?” He supported her kindly and shared the WHO video “I had a black dog. Its name was depression. His wife came to accept her illness and got the help she needed. As she felt better, so did the whole family.
By becoming aware of the devastating effect of this silent illness, Andrew could increase the productivity of his team and harmony in his family. He was able to save lives.
If you are a caring person who has never experienced depression, you can also empathize by watching this video and learning the five signs of emotional illness. Take care of yourself and people you love, check-in frequently, engage and relax and know the five signs. If you see them, give encouragement and support in seeking help.
If you don’t become aware of this silent killer, you may lose your co-workers, your friends, or your family. If you do become aware, you may be able to save lives and prevent suffering for yourself and your loved ones.
You can check the depression criteria to screen if you or the person you care about is just feeling sad or meet the criteria for clinical depression using this PHQ-9 form.
Was this blog helpful? Will it help you to recognize and empathize with people you care if you have never experienced depression yourself? I will discuss recognizing the difference between stress and depression in the next blog in my Depression Awareness Series. Through these blogs, courses, and books, I want to help you achieve optimum level of health and happiness. Please let me know about any other topics you would like me to write for you so you could be the best version of yourself. You can also help other readers with your thoughts and insights. Please share your thoughts. Comments will appear after moderator review, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
To your health happiness.
Dr. Rozina, Psychiatrist, public speaker, and author of Stress to Joy
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Disclaimer: The tools and techniques I teach have proven to be highly successful for improving health and happiness for many, but they are not intended to replace treatment. I cannot take any liability, as engaging with me online is for empowering you with education only and does not establish a treatment relationship. Please consult your personal healthcare provider for specific treatment recommendations.