If you become aware of any of these warning signs in someone you know, a friend or loved one, if possible notify their GP. Do not expect any direct response unless you are able to speak to an appropriate person directly. All patient communication is confidential. Don’t be surprised if a receptionist asks you to take the person you have called about to the medical practice. Out of hours, talk to NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or 111 – the number is changing over the next few months, and both numbers are free to dial. The professional staff who take the calls will be able to advise you what to do next. If a suicide attempt has already been made, call 999. Then you have to trust the trained medical and psychiatric staff to work together to determine the best course of action to keep the person you have referred to them safe until the suicidal urges pass and they start to feel well again. The staff will not take you into their confidence about what they decide unless they ask you for practical support for the person at risk. You have to be clear about what you can offer and what is beyond your means in terms of time and emotional availability, and you will need to communicate this clearly.
Living with uncertainty and lack of control is difficult and can put a strain on you – a similar situation could even have been what triggered the depressed person’s current state. Make sure that you take care of yourself. No-one will benefit if you start to go downhill through stress or exhaustion.
We all have times when we feel low, everyone’s life has bad patches and unhappy periods, and this is normal – not nice, but normal. A broken heart, a lost job, a bereavement will all bring feelings of loss, of sadness, of anger, and these are parts of life which we deal with. Without occasional unhappiness we would not know when we are happy. So don’t worry if a friend or family member feels bad with good reason – they will recover in time. Only if the feeling bad continues and expands and seems to be overwhelming them do you need to think about serous professional interventions.
Whether you are depressed yourself or find yourself supporting someone you care about who has depression, caring and professional help is available. Why not get in touch with Birmingham Counselling Services, whose qualified and experienced counsellors and psychotherapists will be able to work with you. You can reach us via our website: www.BirminghamCounsellingServices.co.uk or by calling us on 0121 314 9903