Major Depressive Disorder is a common, debilitating disorder that affects approximately 16.2 million adults in the U.S. in a given year. It is more than the sadness or grief that we all feel from time to time. It’s overwhelming and consuming and is often accompanied by loss of interest, loss of appetite, and hopelessness. It may be triggered by an event but often it comes out of nowhere, which makes it such a difficult disorder to overcome. It may not be as straightforward as getting psychotherapy to work through the triggering event.
Seeing a loved one go through MDD can be particularly difficult and you may feel helpless. You are not helpless. There is a lot you can do.
What To Look For
How do you know your friend or loved one isn’t merely going through a normal period of sadness? These are some of the indicators:
- Sleep problems (too much or too little)
- Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
- Digestive problems
- Headaches or body aches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling sad and empty
- Suicidal thoughts
- Suicide attempts
MDD can run in the family, can be the result of abuse or poor living conditions can be a result of low self-esteem, or it can be due to a chemical imbalance in the brain.
What You Can Do
First off, if you think that your friend is in immediate danger of harming himself or others call 911 immediately. Remove any threats (guns, knives, medication poisons, etc.) and stay by his side until emergency services arrive. Try to be calm and listen. He needs help and support, not judgment or arguments. If there is not a threat of suicide, you can still help.
Take his MDD seriously. It takes a lot of effort to overcome it and get well.
Try not to take it personally. MDD causes disconnection with those we love. It’s not you, it’s the MDD.
Show understanding. He isn’t lazy. When you have MDD, even the smallest action can be exhausting and overwhelming.
Gently encourage him. Recovery begins with small steps.
Your friend needs support and understanding from you, that’s all. You can’t fix the problem for him nor are you the cause of it. Make it clear that you are there for him and above all, listen.
Treatment for MDD usually begins with psychotherapy and for some, this may be enough. However, most people with MDD are prescribed antidepressants of some kind. Antidepressants work in various ways to change the chemicals in the brain that may be causing the symptoms of MDD. They can be effective if the right one or combination of them is found but some people, after a lot of trial and error, they’re unable to find relief. For those people, there is an alternative.
TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation is a treatment that uses strong magnets focused on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with mood regulation, to stimulate the neurotransmitters into functioning properly. It’s a non-invasive, drug-free treatment approved for the treatment of MDD in adults.
If you or a loved one is suffering from MDD and is unable to find relief from symptoms using antidepressants, Gateway TMS may be able to help. At Gateway TMS, we use state-of-the-art equipment in a relaxed atmosphere to help our patients achieve the best outcome possible―relief or even total remission from their symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder. We’re one of the leading providers of TMS treatments for symptoms of Depression in the St. Louis area. Call us today at (314)909-8487 and find out if TMS is right for you.