Many people suffer in silence when dealing with a mental illness such as depression, which makes it difficult for them to receive the help that they need. An article written by the Guardian highlighted some staggering statistics on young people with mental health problems;
- 75% of mental illnesses start before a child becomes 18 years of age
- 10% of school children (aged 5-16) have a diagnosable mental illness
- 75% of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment
- The average wait for affective treatment is 10 years
- Suicide is the biggest killer in the UK
- More than half of young people feel embarrassed about mental illness
With 25% of us now suffering with mental health problems it is very important that people understand what depression may look like, and what the symptoms are to be able to identify it in those around us. There are various different types of depression including; Mild Depression, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Post-natal depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Signs and symptoms of depression (sourced from Mental Health Foundation) can be;
- Tiredness & lack of energy
- Feeling low
- Loss/Lack of self-esteem and confidence
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxious feelings
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of sex drive
- Physical aches & pains
- Thinking/Talking about suicide
- Difficulty in functioning in every day life e.g. work, school, college
- Sleeping problems (difficulty in falling asleep, waking up earlier than usual)
- Avoiding other people
- Feelings of helplessness & hopelessness
If you're able to spot at least 4 of the above signs and symptoms in somebody you know, there's a possibility that they may be depressed. The best thing you can do for this person is be there.
Organisations like Samaritans offer a safe place to talk as talking really does help (they're contacted by someone every 6 seconds!). Ever heard the saying 'a problem shared is a problem halved'? Having somebody to talk to when you're feeling low can be an absolute godsend, and it's so important for your friends and loved ones to know that you are there for them if they ever need to talk.
You may not be able to offer them the greatest advice but trust me, knowing they have somebody there can be hugely positive in such dark times. Sometimes it's difficult to talk about these things and you may not know what to say, so if you're unsure on how to approach the conversation try asking how they are, mention that you've noticed some differences or that they seem a little low and you want to help. It may take one conversation, or they may open up after three or four chats - either way, let them know that you're there.
Once you've spoken with them about how they're feeling it's very important to discuss getting help. The first place to go is the Doctors. They're able to discuss their symptoms in depth and discuss the best options available; therapy, time off work, medication etc. and whilst the mental healthcare in this country isn't great (understatement of the year), there will be some help available. Plus, it's better to be on a waiting list for therapy than to not have it at all.
Once the steps have been taken to get help, there will be relief. There is nothing more unhealthy than storing up your thoughts and emotions, so to let it all out and talk with people who offer their support and understanding can be life-saving. Depression is a serious condition and must not ever be underestimated. Continue to be supportive throughout treatment, these can often be confusing and scary times. Being there is the greatest thing you can now do.
If you or someone you know is suffering the below resources may also be helpful.
Samaritans - Call 116 123 free (UK & ROI) / Available 24/7 to listen to you and anything that may be upsetting you.
SANEline - Call 0300 304 7000 / Available 6pm-11pm for emotional support & information.
CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) - Call 0800 4 70 80 90 free from 5pm-Midnight or use their online webchat / For Men experiencing distressing thoughts.
Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ helpline - Call 0300 330 0630 / Available 10am-11pm to discuss any problems you're having. All phone operators identify as LGBTQ+.
C.A.L.L. (Only in Wales) - Call 0800 123 737 or text 'help' to 81066 / Offers emotional support and information.