HELPING THE DEPRESSED PERSON
The most important thing anyone can do for the depressed person is to help him or her get appropriate diagnosis and treatment. This may involve encouraging the individual to stay with treatment until symptoms begin to abate (several weeks) or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs. On occasion, it may require making an appointment and accompanying the depressed person to the doctor. It may also mean monitoring whether the depressed person is taking medication.
The second most important thing is to offer emotional support. This involves understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement. Engage the depressed person in conversation and listen carefully. Do not disparage feelings expressed, but point out realities and offer hope. Do not ignore remarks about suiside. Always report them to the doctor. Invite the depressed person for walks, outings, to the movies, and other activities. Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused. Encourage participation in some activities that once gave pleasure, such as hobbies, sports, religious or cultural activities, but do not push the depressed person to undertake too much too soon. The depressed person needs diversion and company, but too many demands can increase feelings of failure.
Do not accuse the depressed person of faking illness or laziness or expect him or her to “snap out of it”. Eventually, with treatment, most depressed people do get better. Keep that in mind, and keep reassuring the depressed person that with time and help, he or she will feel better.
It would be helpful to keep the following points in mind when supporting a person with depression.
- Offer comfort and encouragement
- Keep reassuring them
- Offer constructive advice
- Help him set realistic goals
- Don’t blame him for being ill
- Don’t let him take alcohol
- If he talks of dying, inform his doctor
FAMILY LINK EDUCATION PROGRAMME
The Family Link Education programme has been developed with the help of psychiatrists and family members in Malaysia in collaboration with colleagues in Hong Kong. The program consists of a series of classes for the families of persons with serious and persistent brain disorders (mental illnesses).These classes represent a new concept and curriculum. In this model, the course co-teachers are family members themselves, and the course was designed and written in collaboration with experienced family members themselves.
The components of the course are:
- Information about schizophrenia, Major Depression, Bipolar Illness (Manic Depression), Panic Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
- Coping skills; handling crisis and relapse.
- Listening and communication techniques.
- Problem solving and limit setting; rehabilitation.
- Understanding the actual experience of people suffering from mental illness.
- Self-care; learning how to recognize normal emotional reactions among families to chronic worry and stress.
- Basic information about medications and their side effects.
- Information about connecting with appropriate community services and community and support .
- Advocacy: Getting better services, fighting discrimination.
Contact the nearest psychiatric clinic for the availability of such courses.