What can be a depression emergency?
When a person has depression, they feel sad and hopeless for persistently for weeks, months, or years. They may feel like life wouldn’t get better, lose interest in even their previously liked activities, withdraw socially, experience changes in sleep patterns and/or appetite, and may even have suicidal thoughts. When a person’s depression is severe, they may seriously consider hurting themselves or planning to act on committing suicide. If you suspect someone might be considering it, it becomes a medical emergency. If you are not sure, you can ask them if they have plans of harming themselves – it is a myth that asking someone if they are considering self-harm or suicide gives them the idea to do it; in fact on the contrary, it can give them the space to open up about it and can be potentially life-saving.
How to help someone with depression in an emergency?
If you think the person has intentions of engaging in self-harm, ensure that the person is in a safe environment – this can include making sure someone is in the room with them and/or making sure no harmful methods of suicide are present near them. You can call up a suicide helpline and talk to them and have them talk to the person about the situation, and you can take the person to a hospital emergency room where a psychiatrist could consult them. The person will be medicated and stabilized, and can be monitored by the nurses to ensure their safety, before discharging them back home. Further treatment requirements can be discussed.
How to prevent an emergency for someone with depression?
When you start seeing signs that someone may be struggling with their mental health such as social withdrawal, changes in their appetite and/or sleep patterns, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, feeling low mood, etc. you may want to encourage them to seek professional help of a mental health professional. When depression is identified and the person starts engaging in regular treatment, it can significantly reduce the chances of it leading to an emergency situation.
How can professionals help in case of an emergency for a patient with depression?
In a psychiatric hospital, a psychiatrist can medicate the patient and stabilize them. In case of severe cases of depression where the person’s life is at threat and medications cannot be waited upon to show their effects, other treatment options such as Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) can be considered, ensuring its safety for the person. When the crisis has passed, the person can remain in regular consultations with the psychiatrist and a therapist to help them overcome their depression gradually.