Robin Williams’ tragic passing this week has reminded us that we must be always aware of how others are doing. As serving leaders, we work with many different people who may be dealing with depression. Depression is one of the major risk factors for suicide.
There are over 16 million people in the United States who suffer from major depression. That’s one out of every nineteen people. So what can we do to help them deal with it and get help? In my role as serving leader, I’ve worked in hospices, churches, and nursing homes. I’ve been on treatment teams. I’ve been trained to spot depression in my clients and their families.
In my role of coach and mentor, I’ve been involved in helping others deal with many different challenges in their lives and I would guess that over 20% of these people suffer from some form of clinical depression. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned and share resources that can help you deal with depression.
I’m not a doctor, so if you see some of these signs, you should seek the help of people who are professionally trained to deal with depression. I’m always biased towards better understanding what’s going on with the person. In the best case, you might seem a bit nosy, but in the worst, you could be saving someone’s life. I’ve been on both sides of this equation and I wish I would have gotten more involved with the people who we lost earlier in the illness.
As we learned from Robin Williams, people who appear to the outside world as successful can still suffer from depression. One of the more challenging aspects of depression is how it presents itself to others. Depression appears differently in different people. What does this mean to you as a serving leader? The best way to know when a person is depressed is recognizing changes in people over time. As managers, we must be more engaged in our people’s life if we hope to help more people. I think there are worse things than taking an interest in our fellow human beings.
I have found there are many things that trigger depression. It could be the loss of a job, an impending marriage or loss of a loved one. Depression is frequently triggered by life changing events. It’s not that people don’t get slightly depressed, but when it goes beyond the short term, it’s time to explore more closely. The major difference between normal sadness and depression is the depth of the emotions and feelings.
In many ways depression removes hope, and tends to engulf you in a series of highly charged emotions. Typically, it also involves feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. The other indicator is this lasts several days, if not weeks or months.
So, how do you know if someone is depressed? Here are several signs you may see or experience in clinical depression:
- You can’t sleep, or you’re always sleeping
- You have a hard time concentrating and focusing on easy tasks
- Your emotions go back and forth between hopeless and helpless. You may even feel both at the same time.
- You have a difficult time controlling your negative thoughts. You feel unable to focus on things that are typically easy for you to do.
- You can’t stop eating, or you don’t eat at all
- You are short-tempered, irritable, or may be more aggressive than usual
- You may be using drugs or alcohol to control your highs and lows
- You may have thoughts that your life isn’t worth living
Now, we’ve given you some of the signs. What can you do to help someone you think may be depressed? The first step is to be willing to talk with them about it. I know that it can be hard, but it’s very hard to convince people to explore what’s going on with them if you don’t care for them. When dealing with people in stressful situations I find it easier to just share your observations in a non-threatening way. However, if you are not comfortable with this, there are many other resources in your community to help get the help you need. You can find more information on depression from the Cleveland Clinic here that can help you better understand your options and resources when dealing with depression.
As serving leaders, we take on a higher level of responsibility in helping others in their lives. As we live in challenging times, I see more people dealing with depression. There many great solutions to help others or ourselves with depression, but the first step belongs to you. I hope this helps and if I can be of any assistance let me know. I’m sure we can find a great solution.
Like to know more about Robin William’s extraordinary life and how we might celebrate his life and legacy? You might enjoy my blog on Market Leadership Journal called How Do You Remember Robin Williams?
See you next week.