In this day and age depression can still sometimes be a taboo topic. Mostly because it is still widely misunderstood. Depression is not just feeling sad. It is not just feeling down. It is not just feeling unhappy or feeling ‘over it’ for a few days. Many people minimize depression, and the result of this is that people who have it never get help because they feel like they will be judged. Depression is a persistent period of time when a person feels down and hopeless. If not treated early, depression can morph from feeling bad a lot of the time to feeling suicidal. Symptoms of depression range from consistent feelings of sadness, to losing interest in things you used to enjoy or feeling tearful or angry. Physical symptoms include constantly feeling tired, no appetite or sex drive, not sleeping well or general aches and pains. With the right support and treatment, depression is treatable. A combination of talk therapy and antidepressants are usually recommended by doctors to aid in the treatment of depression. Lifestyle changes like exercising, eating healthy, drinking less alcohol and quitting smoking can have great benefits. Even though you won’t feel like it, try start the process by going for a walk with a friend or on your own. Natural endorphins are released, and you will notice an uptick in your mood. You might even feel motivated enough to implement other changes in your life. How can you help a loved one with depression? If you’ve never been depressed, it might feel easy to tell them to snap out of it. Because it’s a clinical disorder, this is not possible and its not helpful to invalidate their feelings. Instead, listen to them. Show empathy and ask questions. Don’t assume you know what they are going through. Help them find support in the form of counselling – help them with a list of questions to ask a therapist to find a good fit for them. Learn as much as you can about depression and remember to set your own boundaries. Get other friends involved to create a bigger support bubble and take some of the pressure off of yourself. Keep inviting them over, even if they cancel often. They might not feel like leaving the house, but fewer invitations leads to a greater sense of isolation on their part. Above all, be kind and be patient. Depression can be a slow path to recovery.