Ten minutes on depression

Recently I did a ten-minute employee presentation on depression.  The person who asked me to do it wanted me to do it on suicide and depression, but I managed to reduce it to one topic when I pointed out that the largest percentage of suicides in the U.S. occur in the Spring (specifically May).  However, a lot of people get depressed around this time of the year — perhaps it is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD; a lack of sunshine), or having to face gift-giving occasions without much money, or all the family drama of indoor holiday gatherings, or something else entirely.  Still, the topic is much too huge for a ten-minute presentation.  I decided to focus on what they could do to help themselves if they are depressed, or to help others.  I reduced the points to a bulleted half-sheet handout, and a list of Hotline phone numbers.

First I stressed that if the person has been depressed for more than two months and/or is considering suicide, get professional help.  Depression can be a killer.  Therapy can make a difference, sometimes aided by the right medications. 

There are things you can do to keep situational depression or mild depression from becoming more serious, such as:

  • Exercise:  Take a walk.
  • Get out in Nature.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Don’t isolate yourself.
  • Take time for yourself.
  • Do things you enjoy or used to enjoy (even if you don’t feel like doing anything).
  • Get plenty of rest (7-9 hours per day).
  • Challenge the negative voices in your head.
  • Make small changes.
  • Interaction with pets may help.

And when someone you know is depressed:

  • LISTEN!  (Don’t be in a hurry to tell your story.)
  • Be willing to just sit with them.
  • Offer food (something healthy).
  • Encourage them to take a walk with you (which also gets them outdoors).
  • Ask if they want a hug.
  • Don’t say things you don’t mean.
  • Don’t act jolly!
  • Let them know it is okay to feel sad.
  • Say things like, “I care,” or “I can’t imagine how difficult it must be.”
  • Watch a movie or television with them (not something depressing).
  • Ask, “What can I do to help you right now?”

Here are some of the Hotlines I suggested (toll-free phone numbers in the U.S. a person can call when they just need to talk):

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-784-2433
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Covenant House Nineline:  1-800-999-9999
  • Veteran’s Crisis Line:  1-800-273-8255  press 1
  • Gay and Lesbian National Hotline:  1-888-843-4564

Hotlines valid only in California:

  • Elders Friendship Line:  1-800-971-0016
  • Teens (peer counseling, 6-10 p.m.): 1-800-852-8336

Again, this topic is much too huge for a ten-minute presentation.  If a person has been depressed for more than two months, and/or is considering suicide, get professional help.  Remind them they are not alone, and things can get better.


About judithornot

Lives in semi-rural Northern California, happily married, retired counselor, night person, knits, plays WoW.
This entry was posted in Mental Health, social issues and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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