National Anxiety and Depression Awareness

Week May 6 - 12, 2007

Part II - Depression

Each year more than 17 million Americans will suffer from an anxiety disorder and more than 19 million Americans will suffer with a depressive illness. Often these illnesses manifest with not only emotional symptoms but physical symptoms as well. Individuals often believe the cause of their discomfort and pain is an undiagnosed physical illness. Anxiety and depression can happen to anyone at anytime. Below are a few of the most common symptoms.  Are you at risk?

  • Constant uncontrollable worrying
  • Feelings of intense anxiety in social situations
  • Feeling blue, sad, or hopeless
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Sleeping problems, poor concentration
  • Unexplainable aches, pains, or headaches
  • Anxiety attacks, nervousness, or tension
  • Phobias

When depression strikes, the depressed person isn't the only one affected. Everyone around them -- 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 its causes and treatments.

Get other people involved. You can't do this alone. Your friend or loved one may want you to keep his or her depression a secret. But that isn't healthy. It puts far too much pressure on you. So try to get a small circle of family, friends or even co-workers to help.

Ask what your loved one needs. Be direct. Unless you ask, you just won't know what your friend or loved one wants from you.

Don't try to solve the problem on your own. Your loved one needs professional help to get better. Depression is a real illness. You wouldn't try to cure a friend's diabetes on your own. You shouldn't try curing depression either.

Know your limits. There is a lot you can do to help your loved one. But you can't do everything. You can't make your loved one well. You can't watch him or her 24 hours a day. These things aren't in your power. In the end, your loved one has to want to get better, too.

Take threats seriously. Suicide is a very real risk of depression. If your friend or loved is threatening to commit suicide, take action. In a crisis, don't hesitate to call emergency services. You can't keep something this serious a secret.

If you have questions about anxiety or depression, the HealthQuest Employee Assistance Program can be a great resource.  Call the toll-free line confidentially at 1-888-275-1205 (Option 7).

If you missed Part I on Anxiety, see it here.