Depression comes in many ways and forms and can be hard to identify - even though mental health has been spoken about more in recent years - as people can hide it very well. For people who really struggle with depression, it can still feel like a taboo subject as they think they will be treated differently and judged. It is a complex illness that involves much more than just 'feeling sad'.
Chemicals in a person's brain called Serotonin and Dopamine are the ones responsible for feeling happy. If these are low it will really affect a persons mood and behaviour. Here are some signs someone you know might be depressed:
- Low mood and low energy
- Loss of interest and motivation to do activities they usually enjoy
- Sleeping a lot more than usual
- Short temper and frustration
- Not as confident as they usually are
- Over compensating - some people may try to hide their sadness by putting on a happy, over the top and excitable act when around people to avoid feeling vulnerable
Low mood and depression can make someone feel very overwhelmed and alone - even if they're not physically alone. It can cause dark thoughts of harming themselves and suicide in extreme cases. If you know someone who is struggling with depression, it's unlikely they will reach out to you, but what you can do is reach out first by sending them something to let them know you care and are there for them.
Going through depression is very personal and it can be clinical, which means it may be something the person has been born with and medication might be needed to help balance the chemicals in their brain. The other type of depression which can be temporary and occur when a traumatic event has happened in a person's life, causing them to feel very low.
Because depression is so personal only you might know the best way to approach the recipient. Here are some guides of what to write in a card to someone who is struggling with their mental health.
- Tell them they matter and that they would be missed terribly if they were all of a sudden not around anymore
- Say you love them and promise this feeling won't last forever - remind them that they were fine before. There are highs and lows in life and it's important we feel our emotions and it's ok to be sad. But it's also really important to try and grow through this pain and come out the other end.
- Let them know that you are there for them but also that they have made a great impact on your life too this will help them see that you need them too. "Life can get so hard sometimes, I'm here for you, I'm grateful that we can lean on each other at these tough times" Give an example of you need to.
- This is only temporary, we'll get through this together - Remind them that how they are feeling wont last forever and that you are always going to be there for them.
- Remind them of a funny or happy memory you had together
What not to write to someone who is struggling with depression.
Sometimes even if you have good intentions, saying any of these may not come across the way you mean it. Some sensitive phrases to avoid might be:
- 'Hang in there'
- 'Be strong'
- 'Be happy and positive'
You can find further advice on mental health from professional bodies such as Mind Cornwall.
Disclaimer: Please note this blog is just a guideline for ideas for what to write in a card for someone who is suffering with depression. It is not written by a doctor or medical professional. If you know someone who needs urgent assistance please contact their GP or samaritans for professional advice.