ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT A FAMILY MEMBER OR CLOSE FRIEND? HELP SOMEONE in NEED!
If you think a family member or close friend has depression or bipolar disorder, try talking to them about it in a supportive manner and either suggest that they consult their general practitioner or other mental health professional or offer to take them to see one. Help someone in need.
Sometimes a person suffering from a mood disorder may not want to seek help. In these circumstances, explain that you are concerned about them and why, and perhaps provide them with some information – such as a book, or some information from this website – that you think might be relevant. You could also offer to assist them to seek professional help. This might take the form of finding someone with whom the individual feels comfortable talking, making an appointment for them on their behalf, taking them to the appointment on the day, and, if appropriate, accompanying them during the assessment interview. This may be particularly appropriate if the person has a severe disorder such as psychotic depression or mania.
Depression in young people, especially adolescents, should be taken seriously, as this age group is particularly vulnerable to mental disorders. If you think your son or daughter is showing signs of depression or mania, find the time when you can talk to him or her about it (preferably in a stress-free setting) and suggest that it might help him or her to feel better by getting some help. Suggest that they visit the family general practitioner, a school counsellor, or, initially, a friend or relative with whom they feel comfortable.
A series of online resources has been developed by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health that contain tips on what to say and what to do when you are worried someone you know may be thinking about suicide.They can also assist people when:
- they want to know how to talk about suicide more generally
- they are worried about someone and want to know what to say
- there has been a death and they want to know how best to handle individual and community level conversations.
HELPING THE TREATMENT PROCESS
An important part of caring is to help the treatment process:
- If medication is prescribed encourage the person to persist with treatment.
- Counselling or psychotherapy often results in the depressed person “thinking over” their life and relationships. While this can be difficult for all concerned, you should allow the person to discuss these issues.
- A resolving depression sometimes sees strong emotions released which may be hard on the caregiver. The first step in dealing with these fairly is to sort out which emotions really refer to the caregiver and which refer to other people or to the person themselves.
- Treatment has a positive time as well – when the person starts to re-engage with the good things in life and caregivers can have their needs met as well.
LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF AS WELL
Don’t forget that as a caregiver you too are likely to be under stress. Depression and hopelessness have a way of affecting the people around them. Therapy can release difficult thoughts and emotions in carers too. So part of caring is to care for your own self – preventing physical run-down and dealing with the thoughts and emotions within yourself.