- Don’t fight depression–try and accept it as an illness.
- You cannot will the depression away, only accept it.
- Delay any big decisions about work, marriage or money until you feel better.
- Don’t trust your memory right now–take notes and make lists. This will improve when you feel better.
- Staying awake through the night is very common. It’s better to get out of bed until you feel sleepy again.
- Mornings are usually terrible. The day usually gets better towards the evening.
- Avoid being home alone for long periods–the depressive thoughts can get worse when no one is around.
- Forget about trying to read technical or complicated material–you need your concentration to do this–stick to light novels and magazines.
- Be careful about television–comedy and cartoons are okay, but anything else can depress you even more than you already are.
- Get outside at least once a day for a walk by yourself.
- Light exercise of any kind can be very helpful to your recovery.
- If you have to do some work, do it in the afternoon or early evening. Your energy and interest are best at these times.
- Try and keep busy, but only with projects that involve your hands, not heavy thinking tasks.
- Talking to loved ones or friends will be difficult for a while. Sympathetic people can actually make you feel worse. Until you feel better, cancel all non–essential social engagements.
- Suicidal or hopeless thoughts are common in depression and will go away once you start feeling better. Talking to someone about these thoughts can help make them go away.
- Your appetite for food is probably low and you may have lost weight. These are core symptoms of depression and will return to normal with treatment. In the meantime, eat small nutritious snacks and have other people cook for you.
- When you start to get better, you will notice a few minutes or more of feeling quite normal, but it doesn’t last. These minutes become hours and then most of the day is pretty good. Full recovery takes longer, sometimes a couple of months.
- Don’t be surprised if most people are confused by your condition and don’t know what to say to you. No one can really understand your suffering unless they have had a major depression or have treated many depressed people–like your doctor.
- Once again, don’t fight the depression–try and accept it as an illness. You will be back to normal soon.
Most families worry about a member who is depressed. Some people feel angry and overwhelmed. It is difficult to understand why a depressed person is not “Snapping out of it”. The first thing to keep in mind is the depressed person cannot help feeling depressed. Sudden crying spells, angry outbursts, and hopeless statements like, “What’s the point?” are common. This behavior will disappear with treatment. You can help by distracting the depressed person, by keeping them busy with tasks they can accomplish easily. Be patient and reassuring; help with decision making and make sure the person gets to appointments with the doctor and takes the medication.
Positive Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Hallucinations are thought to be a result of over–sharpening of the senses and of the brain’s inability to interpret and respond appropriately to incoming messages. A person with schizophrenia may hear voices or see visions that are not there, or experience unusual sensations on or in his or her body. Auditory hallucinations, the most common form, involve hearing voices that are perceived to be inside or outside of the person’s body. Sometimes, the voices are complimentary, reassuring, neutral. Sometimes they are threatening, punitive, frightening, and may command the individual to do things that may be harmful.
Delusions are strange and steadfast beliefs that are held only by the observer and that remain despite obvious evidence to the contrary. For example, red and green traffic signals may be interpreted by someone with schizophrenia as instructions from space aliens. Many people with schizophrenia who suffer from persecution delusions are termed “Paranoid”. They believe that they are being watched, spied upon, or plotted against. A common delusion is that one’s thoughts are being broadcast over the radio or television, or that other people are controlling the ill person’s thoughts. Delusions are resistant to reason. It is of no use to argue that the delusion is not “Real”.
Thought disorder refers to problems in the way that a person with schizophrenia processes and organizes thoughts. For example, the person may be unable to connect thoughts into logical sequences. “Racing thoughts” come and go so rapidly that it is not possible to “Catch them”. Because thinking is disorganized and fragmented, the ill person’s speech is often incoherent and illogical. Thought disorder is frequently accompanied by inappropriate emotional responses: words and moods do not appear in tune with each other. The result may be something like laughing when speaking of somber or frightening events.
Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Lack of motivation or apathy is a lack of energy or interest in life that is often confused with laziness. Since the ill person has very little energy, he or she may not be able to do much more than sleep and pick at meals. Life for the person with schizophrenia can be experienced as devoid of interest.
Blunted feelings refers to a flattening of the emotions. Since facial expressions and hand gestures may be limited or nonexistent, the ill individual seems unable to feel or show any emotion at all. This does not mean that the individual does not feel emotions and is not receptive to kindness and consideration. He or she may be feeling very emotional but cannot express it outwardly.
Depression involves feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and may stem in part from realizing that schizophrenia has changed one’s life, from realizing that the “Special feeling” experienced in the psychotic state is an illusion and that the future looks bleak. Often the person believes that he or she has behaved badly, has destroyed relationships, and is unlovable. Depressed feelings are very painful and may lead to talk of, or attempts at, suicide. Biological changes in the brain may also contribute to depression.