Claire Hamilton was getting worried about her Aunt Julia. Julia always
seemed to have some new excuse to stay home. She had already, months ago,
stopped volunteering at a local Head Start program because her arthritis was
bothering her. Now Claire found herself on the phone pleading with her aunt to
join the family for birthdays and other celebrations. Claire finally went to
visit Julia. She found that her aunt had lost weight and appeared tired, and
Julia's normally tidy apartment was a mess.
When Claire expressed concern, Julia admitted she'd been
thinking a lot about death and said it might be better than going on the way
When depression strikes, the depressed person isn't the only one affected. Everyone around him or her -- family, friends, and co-workers -- feels the impact.
Helping a loved one cope with depression can be key to his or her recovery. But it isn't always going to be easy. Here are some tips:
Get the facts. The first thing you should do is learn more about depression. Read up on the causes and treatments for depression.
Get other people involved. You can't do this alone. Your friend...
Or take Al Cannon: His wife, Betty, was worried by a change in
his personality. For 15 years, the couple had enjoyed retirement, traveling,
and spending time with their eight grandchildren. Al had been a natural leader
-- someone his fellow firefighters had looked to for leadership and support.
But now he had become withdrawn, forgetful, and irritable. He no longer seemed
to enjoy his favorite foods or activities. He also slept poorly and often
awakened as early as 4 a.m., when he would go to the kitchen and make a racket
until Betty finally got up to see what he was doing.
Both Julia and Al sought help from their doctors, and each was
diagnosed with depression, a disorder that's as common in the elderly as it is
in younger people. And both, fortunately, were successfully treated. Without
treatment, both would they have risked getting worse physically as well as
becoming increasingly despondent and even suicidal.