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What You Can Do to Help Someone Who Is Depressed

May 04, 2020

Few people really seem themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic as we juggle new schedules, isolate ourselves and, for essential workers, face spirit-crushing realities as many help others gravely ill with the virus.

But, besides other responsibilities you may be juggling right now, being mindful of the behavioral health state of those closest to you can potentially ease their journey.

“Symptoms of depression tend to last at least two weeks and often cause distress or impairment at work or in relationships,” said Dr. Ila Sabino, a clinical health psychologist with Hartford HealthCare. “Most people experience feelings of sadness. … It’s important not to ignore troubling symptoms that negatively impact life in important ways.”

You don’t have to be a clinician to intervene. Here are a few ways anyone can help someone struggling with depression or other mood disorders:

  • Know the signs. Each person’s reaction to stressful situations like this pandemic is unique, but the basic signs of depression include sadness, fatigue, anger or irritability, trouble concentrating, loss of interest in activities, trouble sleeping and a lack of energy.
  • Talk to them. Gently ask questions about their frame of mind, slowly peeling away at the layers until you find details such as how long they’ve been feeling depressed, if they think of suicide or if there are things that make them feel better.
  • Listen non-judgmentally. Try not to interrupt, just let the person empty their mind while you listen.
  • Share the pain. We’re all in this pandemic together, so you can empathize with the situation. Your experiences may not be exactly alike, but you can work together to figure out potential solutions.
  • Laugh together. Laughter is truly an effective healing tool. Watch a movie or stand-up routine.
  • Remind them the pandemic is only temporary. It’s so all-consuming right now it’s hard to remember that it won’t always be this way at work or home. We all need to hold onto hope.
  • Suggest help. People are often too proud to seek help for behavioral health concerns, but they will likely not go away on their own. There are inpatient and outpatient services at the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network, and support groups are currently meeting online for easier access. It’s also completely safe to come into facilities as any COVID-19 patients are isolated.

For help with depression, go to instituteofliving.org for help. The Behavioral Health Network also has a warmline (888.984.2408) you can call and someone will call you back.

The Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network is now scheduling virtual-health visits for mental health and addiction services. Call your provider for details. New patients can schedule a virtual visit by calling 1.888.984.2408.

Need to see your doctor? New Patient? For more information about Hartford HealthCare virtual health visits, click here.

Click here to schedule a virtual visit with a Hartford HealthCare-GoHealth Urgent care doctor.

Stay with Hartford HealthCare for everything you need to know about the coronavirus threat. Click here for information updated daily.

Questions? Call our 24-hour hotline (860.972.8100 or, toll-free, 833.621.0600). 

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