8 warning signs of anxiety that most people do not consider

Chronic anxiety is a common anxiety disorder that constant worry, nervousness and tension entails. This goes far beyond worrying about a work project or to be nervous before a date. Chronic anxiety is an intense, persistent and excessive problem that are very disturbing can be a person’s daily life, including their health.

Anxiety causes constant anxiety, feelings of anxiety, inability to relax, and feeling overwhelmed. It is also very possible that fear manifests itself in physical symptoms, not only mental health, but also physical health.
Although the behavioral and emotional symptoms of chronic anxiety are more commonly known, the eight physical symptoms may also be symptoms of an anxiety disorder:

symptoms of an anxiety disorder

1. Muscle Pain

One of the most common physical symptoms associated with anxiety is muscle pain. Stress can cause muscle pain and inflammation.
2. Headaches

Headaches are other common physical symptoms of anxiety. Stress causes tension in the muscles that can cause headaches. Too much caffeine can also exacerbate headaches.

3. Fatigue

Chronic anxiety is very stressful. Stress caused by fear of the adrenal glands can, which play an important role in maintaining health and weaken the balance in the body. Fatigue can be the result of the reduction of the adrenal glands.
4. digestive problems

Chronic anxiety is associated with poor digestion, including irritable bowel syndrome. When the brain does not function properly, the digestive system may also experience problems. Serotonin, calming neurotransmitter in the brain, mainly in the gastrointestinal tract. Fear can lead to poor digestion and low levels of serotonin.

5. sugar cravings

Sugar stimulates a sense of fun to cause an accident. Those who suffer from anxiety may fear the emergence of sugar. They are looking for a nice feeling when stressed or upset.
6. sleep problems

Suffering from chronic anxiety can make it extremely difficult to relax or fall asleep. Brains quickly and not only has slowed down, as it is time to sleep. Those who fear to fight to “activate their brains” night.
7. Mood changes

When the brain is full of negative or disturbing thoughts, patience is reduced. People with chronic anxiety can break the trend or hire someone who needs attention.
8. Lack of Focus

A person with anxiety may have difficulty concentrating or concentrating, because brains generate a million other things. A person may try to work, but his mind is elsewhere.

There is no quick fix for an anxiety disorder, but a healthy, balanced lifestyle can help keep your symptoms under control. If you fight against terrorism, visit a health professional and consider the possibility of these important changes in life:

Get enough
Limit caffeine
Avoid alcohol and nicotine
Eat a healthy and balanced diet
Regular exercise
Try Meditation
Practice Deep Breathing
Set a reasonable schedule
Identify unhealthy relationships
Talk when you start feeling overwhelmed
Do not avoid those when you feel anxious

I Feel Like Shit Sometimes, And It’s OK

 

Lately I read Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art of not Giving a Fuck. Great read!

One thing that really inspired me was his Feedback Loop from Hell. I know, badass name. So today you’ll learn why you actually should give a fuck about this. It’s quite interesting.

*Caution, there’s a lot of swearing in this post.

“There’s an insidious quirk to your brain that, if you let it, can drive you absolutely batty.”

“Let’s say you have an anger problem. You get pissed off at the stupidest, most inane stuff, and you have no idea why. And the fact that you get pissed off so easily starts to piss you off even more. And then, in your petty rage, you realize that being angry all the time makes you a shallow and mean person, and you hate this; you hate it so much that you get angry at yourself. Now look at you: you’re angry at yourself getting angry about being angry. Fuck you, wall. Here, have a fist.”

Who hasn’t been there or has at least witnessed a similar situation?

Fuck, that’s me. Here, table, feel my fist. Aaargh.

Welcome to the Feedback Loop from Hell.

The idea is simple: Because we humans can think about what we think, we can also not like what we think or what we feel. We can even not like what we think about what we think – that’s when you catch yourself being angry at yourself getting angry about being angry. That’s when you realize that you’re engaging in the Feedback Loop from Hell and call yourself a loser for doing it.

Let me tell you an example from my last holiday in the Swedish wilderness with my brothers. I sometimes observed myself losing my calm (there was quite some provocation going on). And as I realized it, I lost my calm about losing my calm. It’s not that I flew into a rage. But observing me losing my calm triggered something in me. Probably because I’ve seen myself as a calm person and also because I was reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth at the time and therefore wanted to be a calm person. So when I observed that I’m not acting how I wanted to act made me first of all realize that I’m not where I want to be (feedback) and also it made me feel worse about myself. That’s a classic case of the feedback loop from hell. What’s positive was the observing in the first place. That’s how you can improve yourself.

A friend told me that she’s worrying a lot. And that she’s worried about herself worrying too much.

Sounds a bit crazy but it’s absolutely normal.

Another example: We all have this friend who’s scared of talking to the hot blonde at the bar. And when he realizes he either has got a great excuse (nah, she’s not thaat hot) or he gets anxious about being anxious (Damn, I really shit my pants for no reason. I’m such a scaredy pants. But why?).

Point is, we all do that.

The Feedback Loop from Hell

The Feedback Loop from Hell.

It’s okay not to feel like a Superstar

“Now here’s the problem: Our society today, through the wonders of consumer culture and hey-look-my-life-is-cooler-than-yours social media, has bred a whole generation of people who believe that having these negative experiences — anxiety, fear, guilt, etc. — is totally not okay.”

But it is.

It’s okay to feel like shit sometimes. And, we shouldn’t make ourselves feel even shittier just for feeling like shit.

Just because everybody’s only posting their happy experiences on Facebook doesn’t mean that’s always the case. (Lately I stumbled upon this funny Unilad video ‘Instagram vs reality’ which shows this bluntly.)

The feedback loop from hell makes us overly stressed, neurotic and self-loathing. We don’t like ourselves. We’re unhappy with ourselves being unhappy instead of just accepting that it’s okay to feel that way sometimes. (Check out Nils’ article to learn about the negative effects of self-criticism.)

Sure, it sucks when you wake up feeling depressed. But it sucks even more and makes things worse when you blame yourself for feeling that way. It’s better to admit that you’re feeling that way and say it’s okay.

Right now, I feel like a fart. But it’s fine.

“Back in Grandpa’s day, he would feel like shit and think to himself, ‘Gee whiz, I sure do feel like a cow turd today. But hey, I guess that’s just life. Back to shoveling hay.’”

“This is why not giving a fuck is so key. This is why it’s going to save the world. And it’s going to save it by accepting that the world is totally fucked and that’s all right, because it’s always been that way, and always will be.”

“By not giving a fuck that you feel bad, you short-circuit the feedback loop from hell; you say to yourself, ‘I feel like shit, but who gives a fuck?’ And then, as if sprinkled by magic fuck-giving fairy dust, you stop hating yourself for feeling so bad.”

The Feedback Loop From Hell Broken

The Feedback Loop from Hell broken simply by asking yourself, “Who gives a fuck?”

Simple: Don’t give a fuck when you’re not feeling great. Because it’s ok.

Choose your fucks wisely

Mark Manson argues that we have way too much stuff so that we don’t even know what to give a fuck about anymore. In our social media world there are uncountable ways to find out that we don’t measure up, that we’re not good enough, and that things aren’t as great as they could be. And this rips us apart inside.

We give way too many fucks about the things we don’t have.

“Look, this is how it works. You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice – well, then you’re going to get fucked.”

“There is a subtle art to not giving a fuck. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an asshole, what I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively – how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values. This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve it. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life.”

Point is: Don’t give a fuck about every little shit out there. Does it matter? Not really, so why give a fuck about it? Look at things in perspective. What does it matter when you step on a dog shit and look at your whole life in perspective to it? Literally, shit happens and it’s ok. Right, it sucks, but no fucks given.

“The problem with people who hand out fucks like ice cream at a goddamn summer camp is that they don’t have anything more fuck-worthy to dedicate their fucks to.”

What does it matter when the driver in front of you only drives 55 instead of 60? What does it matter when your neighbor moans like a moose once a month? What does it matter when your mother-in-law doesn’t say ‘thank you’ for your gift? Who gives a fuck? Just make sure you don’t drive too slowly, and you don’t moan loudly, and you say ‘thank you’ when you get a gift (or you don’t, no fucks given on trivialities).

We don’t control everything out there. But you can control what to actually give a fuck about. Choose your fucks wisely.

In terms of the Feedback Loop from Hell that means that it’s completely fine that things suck sometimes. Just don’t give too many fucks about it because it will only make things worse. In many cases it’s probably best not to give a fuck about something in the first place, but when you catch yourself doing it, it’s ok. Let it be.

For example, when you catch yourself getting pissed off about the slow driver in front of you, don’t get even more pissed off just because you got pissed off in the first place.

The pissed off feeling will go away as soon as you let go. When you catch yourself getting pissed off and then say to yourself “Who gives a fuck?” the negative feeling will vanish.

We must realize that things suck sometimes, some more and some less. When you get comfortable with the idea that life sometimes throws shit in your face, you get what Mark Manson calls ‘practically enlightened’.

All this doesn’t mean to let go of everything and not giving a fuck about anything. There are still many things you should actually care about. And give a fuck about. You know, the most important things in your life. Your family and friends. The environment. You. The things you love. Whatever that may be.

3-Bullet Summary

  • It’s okay to feel like shit sometimes. Admit it and ask “Who gives a fuck?” and it won’t matter anymore.
  • Choose wisely what you want to give a fuck about. Don’t hand out fucks like ice cream. It’s all about prioritization and the realization that you cannot control everything.
  • Let go of the idea that life is a petting zoo. It’s not. You’ll step into shit sometimes. And if not, shit will step into you. Get comfortable with that.

Do with that whatever the fuck you wanna do.

Posted by Jonas Salzgeber

16 things you only know if you have anxiety

16 things you only know if you have anxiety

I’m going to get right to the point here: I suffer from anxiety.

My heart’s racing at the thought of writing this article.

I’m imagining all the things you might think of me – ‘You’re a terrible writer,’ ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about,’ ‘What qualifies you to write about anxiety?’

If catastrophizing were a GCSE, I’m sure I’d get an A*, right up there with heart palpitations and special achievements in insomnia.

And you might be there with me. You know you’ve got anxiety when:

1. You think those Keep Calm tee shirts are annoyingly patronising.

2. You tried deep breathing but it made you feel light headed so you felt anxious about it.

3. You practise mindfulness but keep getting up midway through to check the coffee machine/gas hob/iron isn’t on (it isn’t).

4. You still have exam nightmares despite taking them over 10 years ago. And in some of them you might be naked.

5. You check your phone every 30 seconds when you’re meant to meet your date just in case they’ve decided to ditch you.

6. At night your mind is a constantly scrawling to-do list, keeping you awake remembering that you mustn’t forget things.

7. You forget things because you didn’t sleep well, because 6.

8. You get ready for a night out two hours early (just in case) then pace the room repeatedly asking, ‘Shall we get going, then?’

9. You strategically position yourself on the train platform exactly where the doors will open and you know you’ll get on first, then are horrified when the train doors stop two feet away from you. Hor.Ror.

10. You rush to get a seat on a train while subconsciously listing best to worst people to sit next to. (Worst is next to drunken chatty person eating kebab and pasty combo, who spills crumbs on you and tries to chat you up on the last train home. And then vomits.)

11. You’ve left two hours early for an event (see 8) but the train stops between stations. Dread. Then the tannoy announcement is both inaudible and incomprehensible. Blind panic.

12. You’re so anxious on your night out, you completely forget what you’re saying mid-anecdote and start babbling incoherently while you scrabble around your frantic head trying to remember what you were saying.

13. You laugh maniacally hoping this will satisfy everyone (see 12) as the natural end to your story.

14. Before job interviews you practise your smile in the mirror, trying to replace the look of sheer terror with one of ‘competence and reliability’. Even resting bitch face would be an improvement at this point.

15. You’re two hours early for your interview (see 8 and 11) and have to keep replying ‘I’m fine, thanks,’ to offers of tea and biscuits when what you really want to do is run out of the building, all the way home.

16. You have a bath before bed when you get home as self-help 101 for anxiety, but all that happens is that you can’t sleep (see 6) but you now smell of lavender essential oil. And you’re clean. Bonus.

Sinead O’Connor is Telling Us Mental Illness is Killing Her. Do We Give a Damn?

Last week Sinead O’Connor posted a video from a New Jersey hotel room, in which she shares in raw, unflinching detail, her long battle with mental illness.

In the video she is shaken and terrified and lonely. 
She is angry, vulnerable, heartbroken. 
The frustration in her eyes and her voice are palpable.

“People who suffer from mental illness are the most vulnerable people on Earth.”she pleads. “You’ve got to take care of us. We’re not like everybody.” 

I wonder if it matters.
I wonder if it will take her leaving to matter.
That seems to be how this all works.

In the aftermath of the suicides of high-profile figures like Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington in recent days, or Robin Williams or Kurt Cobain well before them—the world suddenly fills with grief-stricken fans offering tributes, sharing their disbelief, and lamenting the shock of the loss. They adorn doorsteps with makeshift memorials. They gather in tear-filled vigils. They create posthumous tributes. 

And in the hours immediately following such tragedies—they comb through the dead person’s social media posts, song lyrics, and last days, asking the question, “Could we have seen the signs? Were their signs pointing to something so terrible?”

Sinead O’Connor is a neon sign.
She is a flashing billboard.

Her every word, every tear, every quaking expletive born out of desperation, is a rescue flare shot into the night sky.
She is telling us where she is and how to find her.
She is showing us what it is to live with mental illness, and how pressed against the precipice of staying here, that she and so many others are.

She is begging us to give a damn while she can still feel it.
She is telling us in essence, that were her premature demise to come, it should not be a shock to us.

This is the part of mental illness that we struggle with: mentally ill people; those who are abrasive or self-destructive or volatile. We don’t like to deal with that. We don’t like to watch people ranting in lousy hotels rooms about how alone they feel and are.

We don’t care for people with mental illness very well.
We distance ourselves, we minimize their sickness, we condemn their symptoms.
We wash our hands when they become too difficult to handle, when their care becomes too messy.
We ghost them.

We don’t do this to Cancer victims or to people with Heart Disease or those ravaged by infection. We don’t make fun of them, we don’t call them weak, we don’t question their choices—and we sure as hell don’t leave them alone to be overtaken by their illnesses.

The only thing we do really well with mentally ill people is to memorialize them and to navel gaze later on what we might have missed.

We shouldn’t miss this.

Sinead O’Connor is saying on this side of existence, “Help me and people like me, while we’re still here.” She is asking us to step into the storm of mental illness and rescue people.

She is asking it for singers and actors—but  for police officers, for school teachers and stay at home parents, too. She’s asking it for high school students and veterans and elderly couples. She is asking it for tens of millions of people who may not have the strength to lay themselves out in a video for the world to critique.

I hope we listen to Sinead.
I hope someone who is close enough to her, reaches out and into her life and tells her she’s worth fighting for, that she’s beautiful, that she’s not alone, that she matters.

I hope we all do this for our parents and spouses and children and best friends and neighbors and co-workers who need this.
I hope we begin treating mental illness like the deadly disease it is.

I hope we learn to love mentally ill people well—instead of settling on eulogizing them well.

20 Things to Remember If You Love A Person With Depression

 

Christian Maciel

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 350 million people all over the world with depression. With that staggering statistic, it is highly probable that we will all interact at some point with someone experiencing a bout with depression. With that probability in mind, the very people you would not expect to be experiencing depression, such as friends, family, co-workers, and even your boss, will be the ones fighting it.

As a psychotherapist, it is crucial to disclose that in my years of experience working with individuals and even marriages experiencing depression, one of the most devastating aspects of dealing with depression is the stigma and negative criticism that comes from others. Furthermore, people may not even know that their behaviors and comments are being negative or hurtful and sometimes even make the depression feel worse.

With this in mind, here are 20 simple things we can remember when interacting with those that may be having a fight with depression. Any one of these points will not only help with the stigma surrounding depression, but may even help the individual dealing with depression.

1. They are strong in character

In a recent Tedx talk, psychiatrist and philosopher, Dr. Neel Burton explains that depression can represent a deeper search for meaning and significance in life. A person experiencing depression can be seen as working to make sense of life and trying to achieve more, fix more and improve more. Moreover, depression can be a way of preparing a better and even healthier future for ourselves and those around us. Dr. Burton goes on to mention that some of the most influential and inspirational people have dealt with depression such as, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. Their search for peace, happiness and peace led their hearts and minds into the pit of depression, but they ended up changing the course of history.

It takes immense will and transparency to acknowledge the presence of depression, but it also pushes people to create answers in the darkest moments in life. In conclusion, depression can take people into the deep woods of our souls and help clear out any unneeded weeds, or shrubs that may be hiding the beauty of life. It is not an act of fear, cowardliness, or ignorance.

2. They love it when you reach out to them unexpectedly

I believe that one of the biggest assumptions of someone dealing with a bout of depression is that they want to be left alone. Although that could seem true at times, it is a dose of healthy social medicine when a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor drops by to say hello. One growing theory about the root of depression in our society is the lack of social relationships in our communities and even in our families. There is a constant dose of emptiness and disconnection in our everyday interactions due to overworking, television and technology. People managing depression need more company, more friends, more people reaching out to them, and more people wanting to spend time with them, not the opposite.

The next time you find yourself thinking about someone that is going through a depressive state, think of a nice, engaging and friendly act you can show them, instead of choosing to stay away from them. If we use the example of Jesus, He was always with people. To take it further, Jesus chose to spend time with trusted associates and not be alone too often. In fact, it was when He was alone that Satan chose to tempt him the most.

Consider your loved ones and friends that are experiencing depression as a needing you and your presence more than ever. It is interesting to think about the times when I was growing up and my mother would always make it a point to lean on her sisters and brother during times of trouble or loneliness. Family and community is a natural remedy for depression. Let’s start to use it more often.

Mother Teresa put it very well, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”

3. They do not want to burden anyone

Only a depressed individual understands how hard it is to hide their feelings and thoughts from others to avoid being shamed. One characteristic of a person dealing with depression is that they are keenly aware of themselves, their thoughts, their feelings and the behavior of others towards them. The weight that depression can bring upon a person is enough to bury them for a day – the burying of those around them is not on the to-do list.

Unfortunately, individuals fighting depression may push to be alone because they do not want to impact anyone negatively. Although this may not always be the case, depressed loved ones desire to manage their depression successfully and not allow it to touch anyone ever so slightly. This can be a paradoxical situation because being alone can actually exacerbate the symptoms of depression.

Depression can make someone feel as if they’re a burden to the world, especially to those around them. They are not seeking attention, nor want any coddling or rose-colored glasses handed to them. It is a valuable insight to recognize that managing their depression effectively is the most important goal of a depressed individual, not causing anyone any burdens or pain. If they do happen to hurt you or offend you, remember that they are not the enemy – their depression is the true enemy. Tell your depressed loved one that you accept them fully, unconditionally, and remind them of any and all positive traits you love about them.

4. They are not “broken” or “defective”

The human body is a complex machine. It is the oldest organism on Earth and we still do not know how to fully prevent it from breaking down. Still more complex though is the human brain and it’s many structures and functions. Although the cause of some forms of depression are not fully known or understood, many of us make the assumption that a depressed individual is defective, or flawed. The quality of the person is not correlated with the diagnosis of depression. Much like having a big chin, being overweight, or having a lisp is a characteristic without a given or specific cause, depression can come about in a person’s life for many reasons. It is not indicative of a broken or defective person.

The most helpful thing you can do is continue to value the depressed individual and continue to see them as whole, strong, and valuable.

5. They are natural philosophers

Individuals living with depression have many questions and opinions about life, about happiness and about their significance on Earth. It is not enough to simply make money, or launch a successful career. It is not enough to simply live the “American” dream. It is not enough to simply live in the present and hope it all works out. Depression has a funny way of making your perspective broader and more inclusive.

Depressed individuals would love to make the world a better and more just place. They would love to have answers to all of life’s challenges and then would like to share that knowledge with as many people as possible. At times, this inquisitiveness can be an enemy, since it will create your questions than there are answers.

So, recognize that at their core, depressed individuals are intelligent, inquisitive, curious and creative. This is a positive, not a negative.

6. They are fighting hard against depression and appreciate lots of support

In the biggest fight of their lives, depressed individuals need cheerleaders, not bullies. It is in the darkest moments that friends can become angels and angels become lifesavers – literally. You will have a choice at some point in your life to be a lifesaver or a lifetaker. Be a lifesaver. Give the gift of acceptance, help, encouragement and presence.

7. They like opportunities for fun and laughter

What’s the opposite of depression? Mania! It is a proven scientific phenomenon that laughter is good for the soul and the mind. Depressed individuals function the same way. I always like to remember the Jerry Seinfeld episode where Jerry has a sick friend in the hospital and tries to do his “set” to cheer him up and make him laugh.

Well, he ends up killing his friend because he made him laugh too hard. Don’t worry – you won’t hurt your depressed loved ones or friends with your humor and laughter. Dish it out and dish it out often.

8. They are sensitive to other people’s feelings and actions

Depressed individuals care – and they care a lot. They care about how you feel, how you see them, how you see yourself and what others need. It may be that they care too much! Some of the most caring people I have ever met are people that suffer from some sort of depression. Let them know what you need and what you do not need.

Set boundaries with them that are respectful, clear and considerate. Also, ask about what their needs and wants are and let them know what you are capable of giving, or not giving. There is nothing better than a sound relationship based on healthy communication and boundaries.

9. They should be treated respectfully

There is a negative stigma attached to dealing with depression. And, it’s not the depressed individual doing the stigmatization. It is society. I cannot repeat this enough – reducing the stigmatization will help alleviate the societal effects of depression. Respect is a value much more than it is an act. If it was an act, I would rather pay for it, than expect it and not receive it. Respect involves seeing beyond the depressed individual and seeing the whole person.

Depression has the ability to mask many other positive and truly remarkable qualities of a person. Do not let depression lie to you and lie to your loved one. Celebrate what you don’t see initially by seeking out the goodness of those suffering with this tough illness.

10. They should be treated like anyone else

No need for eggshells, or tiptoes. Go about your business and assume your depressed loved one is 100% healthy. Sometimes just living a routine, but a predictable, purposeful routine, can bring such a boost and be a remedy for depression.

11. They have talents and interests

We all have talents and abilities. We all have stinky breath too. Your depressed loved ones love to do something too, no doubt. And, guess what? They can probably do it really, really well! If you don’t know what it is, then, you’ve just found your next mission. Go find out. Help them find what their true passion is. Seek out ways to grow that passion, to develop and hone that passion and ultimately erase that negative identity that comes with fighting against depression.

12. They are fully capable of giving and receiving love

Every human being on Earth is capable of giving and receiving love. And, you guessed it! Your depressed loved ones are no different. Give, and you shall receive. Treat others as you would like to be treated. And, the list of rules and laws could go on and on. It does not matter that someone is fighting depression. The quality and ability of love does not change. It is still there! Reach out for it, but also give it yourself. You’ll find much more love than you thought was there.

In the small windows of reprieve from the symptoms of depression, there can be wonderful episodes of remarkable joy, laughter and communion. If you have to wait for those windows to appear, then just think about the fact that not every scene of your favorite movie is perfect. You just have to wait for your favorite parts.

13. They love learning about how life works

In searching for ways to relieve their depression, individuals fighting depression are natural problem-solvers. Do not be surprised if they are voracious readers, or learners. Do not be surprised if they ask questions that cannot be quickly answered. Many of the world’s leaders and trailblazers were led by deep analysis, deep thinking and deep, but strongly-rooted beliefs and values. What an insight! Depression is not a disability, but an ability that has the potential to depress! No one person can answer all of life’s question, nor solve all inequalities. Sometimes, simply allowing the questions to be asked is enough.

14. They do not plan on losing the fight against depression

The fight against depression may be lifelong, or it may last a moment. Regardless, the fight is one that must be won. The question always is: when will this depression leave and how can I speed this up a bit? The plan is to win against depression. The plan is not to lose and live in self-pity. Of utmost importance is to remember that depression is treatable and there are many, many resources to help someone do so. One of the first steps in fighting depression is to acknowledge its presence. In acknowledging its presence, you can begin to treat it. Many times, a person in denial will spend countless amounts of energy hiding their depression, or trying to deal with it via their own will.

15. They may feel sad for no apparent reason, so just be with them

Just like the fog invades the meadow, which eventually ruins your morning drive to work, depression can sneak up on its victims. Moods can be volatile and labile. It is not something that is easily controlled with a switch or a lever. Remember that fog? Can you just wish it away? Probably not. Your loved ones are trying very, very hard to be happy, pleasant and engaging, but what they need is simple.

They need you to just be there. Literally. Simply sit with them and read a book together, watch a comedy together, or take a trip to the local coffee shop and have a sip together. No psychologist is needed here, only your presence and acceptance. Let the fog fade away as the morning sun rises and welcomes in a new day.

16. They may not have as much energy as they would like to have

One of the symptoms of depression is fatigue or lack of energy. One of the most helpful antidepressants that has been proven by research is exercise. I realize that maybe you have heard of this recommendation before, but let me be a little more specific. The type and duration of exercise can vary, but the minimum that could have an effect is to do fast walking at least three times a week for 30 minutes each time. That is the amount of exercise someone needs in order to feel an anti-depressive effect.

Isn’t that convenient? So, if the sun is out and the breeze is whispering for you to come out and play, invite your loved one out for a walk. They may not see an immediate effect, or they actually may! Either way, exercising in this way is increasing their chances of beating depression and increasing their energy levels.

17. They may seem irritable at times – do not take it personally

Irritability is another symptom of depression. Although there is no excuse for treating people disrespectfully, it is important to let any friction with a depressed individual to slide off your back. On the other hand, it is acceptable and important to set expectations and even boundaries with a depressed individual. An expectation is a minimum standard that you expect of someone. A boundary can also be thought of as an expectation that is set in order to keep a harmonious relationship.

If a depressed individual has hurt your feelings in some way, it is okay to tell them so; however, as with any relationship, it is recommended that you remove any blaming from the exchange. Simply let your depressed loved one know how you are feeling and what you would like from them instead. Also, if your depressed loved one is not willing to listen, try again later when emotions are cool. Let them know you love them, but that you love yourself too. Not only are you modeling good self-love, but you are also modeling good communication skills and boundary-setting.

18. They do not want to hear “shoulds”

As in, “you should go out more with your friends.” If there is a kryptonite for depressed individuals, it is this one – the “shoulds”. Depressed individuals already have a deep and ingrained habit of “shoulding” themselves to the limit. In case you don’t know what a “should” is, it is a statement that has a “should” inserted in the middle of it. For example, you “should” go out and exercise more. You “should” just snap out of it. If I were you, I would do x, y and z. You “should” do it like I would.

Not only does this set up a relationship of condescension, it assumes that the depressed individual does not have a mind and will of their own. The bottom line is that it feels like the person making those statements is being a parent. And, depressed loved ones do not need a parent telling them what they “should” do. Instead, a depressed loved one should be asked as many open-ended questions as possible. This will help the depressed individual think through their options, consider alternatives, explore ideas, expand their abilities and so on and so on. “Shoulding” them is only going to put up a wall and nothing will get accomplished in this way. Remember, an open-ended question is not a yes or no question.

A yes or no question: do you have a favorite color? Yes.

An open-ended question: what are your options right now? Hmm…

19. They need lots of family support and encouragement

This one is a must. It is not true that family makes depression worse, or that it doesn’t help. In fact, there are treatment models for depression that involve family or a marital partner. And while it is probably that depression can make a relationship suffer, there is also a great power in utilizing a relationship as a tool for helping depressed individuals learn about themselves and to learn how to regulate interactions.

One of the best ways to make a difference in a depressed person’s life is to let them know you are there for them. It is something that must not be simply assumed. It is something that has to be communicated directly, face to face. Something that must be considered is the way in which you show support and encouragement. Here is a small list of recommendations:

– Give a small, sincere compliment.

– Notice their strengths and positives.

– Include them in events or plans.

– Remove any kryptonite from your language (shoulds).

– Respect their feelings and thoughts, but use open-ended questions as much as possible.

20. They need positive reinforcement more than criticism or negative reinforcement

Sea World trains its killer whales via positive reinforcement. In parenting training, positive reinforcement has been shown to work better than negative reinforcement in getting the behavior you want. In almost any relationship, highlighting the positive and celebrating that, is a healthy and effective way to increase desired behavior. On the other hand, being the recipient of positive reinforcement is a wonderful feeling. All of us have been employees at one point or another in our lives. Even in the workplace, receiving compliments for our work, and being cherished for our efforts, increases both our productivity and our dedication to the job.

Your depressed loved one will receive a boost in self-esteem whenever you decide to use positive reinforcement. Try it.