Happy new year, listeners. Life can be challenging at times, but sometimes it is more than just feeling down. Depression is a common, serious, treatable mental health illness that affects 7% of adults and teens.
Depression is not simply a bad mood, but a chemically-based phenomenon that needs more than just a good ear or strong shoulder to cry on. Oftentimes friends and family do not know how to help a struggling loved one, typically assuming the problem is simply emotional, not chemical.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, we should watch out for friends and family members showing empty moods, hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, loss of pleasure, decreased energy, absentmindedness, low appetite, restlessness, sleep problems, and ultimately, thoughts of death or suicide.
If you notice a combination of these and hope to be supportive, listen to them, ask questions, validate their feelings, but don’t try to solve their problems. Encourage and help them find professional support; that’s what counselors and therapists are for and nothing to be ashamed of. Support them in continuing counseling but do not press and make their depression the whole of that person. Set boundaries while also showing that you are open and caring. Finally, continue to learn about depression for yourself.
If you need help with depression, either for yourself or someone else, please call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline at 1-800-662-HELP or call your health care provider immediately. If you are a DeKalb community member or a student, the NIU Community Counseling Training Center offers free services. Let’s all do our best to watch out for others and make this a truly happy new year. Much love to you all.
I am Joe Flynn, and that is my perspective.