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Depression is a mental state, which is characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.  Some of the signs of depression include suicidal thoughts, feeling sad, having a non positive attitude about the past, present and future, losing interest in activities once enjoyed, feeling listless and without energy, having difficulty in making decisions, experiencing a disruption in sleep patterns, having a decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss, and having depressing dreams.

When dealing with a loved one or a client that exhibits any, or all of these signs, caregivers, unpaid or paid should know a few ways to assist them during their depression.

-Become familiar with the person’s situation.

-Find out if support systems exist within the family or the community.

-Watch for the “red alert” indicators of depression (e.g. sadness, withdrawn, lethargic, neglected hygiene and personal appearance).

-Take any and all comments about death or suicide seriously.

-Support the person in finding help.

-Avoid giving “pep talks”, as they are not beneficial.

-Listen to the client with a non judgmental and non critical ear.

-Be supportive and understanding.

-Don’t assume any guilt over the client’s condition.

-Contact the person on the care giving team who is responsible for taking action for depression.