Mental health and depression can affect anyone. This week the buzz is around longtime actor and comedian Robin Williams who was found dead in his home from an apparent suicide. The first thing that crossed my mind is how does a guy who was seemly always happy, encouraging, positive, and financially secure get to that point in his life? There is no simple answer.
Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life. When these feelings last for a short period of time, it may be a case of "the blues." But when such feelings last for more than two weeks and when the feelings interfere with daily activities such as taking care of family, spending time with friends, or going to work or school, it's likely a major depressive episode.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, major depression is a treatable illness that affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and functions. At any point in time, 3 to 5 percent of people suffer from major depression; the lifetime risk is about 17 percent.
Here are some simple things you can do to help friends, family, coworkers or acquaintances you think may be dealing with depression.
1) Make an attempt to call or visit the person. Invite him/her to join you in daily activities. People who are depressed may turn to isolation solely because they don't want to trouble other people. Routines that promote exercise, nutrition, and a healthy amount of sleep are typically helpful in situations like this.
2) Encourage a doctor visit. Doctors have tools to screen patients for depressive behavior and the ability to appropriately refer to specialists or medications.
3) Find local support systems. Sometimes it’s just nice to talk with someone different, someone outside of your normal peer group. Use support services in your community or online resources such as National Alliance on Mental Illness to help you find the right specialist.
Depression is real and requires proper support and treatment. If you are currently experiencing depressive behaviors or know someone who is, please seek proper assistance.