On the European Day of Depression that marks today, the Portuguese Psychologists Association launches the document “Let’s talk about depression”, to clarify the population about this prevalent and disabling disease, which continues to be misunderstood and underestimated.

The Order of Portuguese Psychologists (OPP) warns that the World Health Organization describes depression as the most frequent health problem in the world and the main cause of disability”, and it is estimated that in Portugal alone it affects about 10% of the population.

Therefore, we believe that it is important to talk about the topic and give the population as much literacy as possible about this health problem.”, clarifies the OPP.

In a 13-page document, the Order of Psychologists begins by explaining what depression is, its symptoms, how it affects children, teenagers or adults, what impact it has on the lives of patients, and what its causes are. some guidelines on how to deal with depression and how to help someone who is depressed.

According to the OPP, “depression is an experience of intense and persistent suffering in which the person feels very unhappy and sad most of the time, cries and/or is easily irritated, is dejected and uninterested in their usual activities” .

Depression “is not something ‘in our head’, a sign of ‘weakness’, something that lasts forever, laziness or lack of will, something that only happens to others, something that ‘is part of life’, ‘thing of women’ or ‘rich people’”, stress the psychologists, in an allusion to the existing prejudices in relation to this disease.

The order also devotes a chapter to the theme of suicide, an outcome normally associated with deep states of depression, providing telephone numbers for crisis situations.

The document also points out a list of feelings, behaviors and thoughts associated with depression, as well as how it manifests itself in children and adolescents, or in older adults.

Children can also have depression. In the little ones, the signs can be sadness, crying, irritability, addictive behavior, unexplained pain, refusal to go to school or weight loss”, he clarifies.

The OPP also explains what are the causes and impact of depression in the lives of patients and in their daily lives, noting that it is a highly disabling disease, as it is directly reflected in daily tasks, work, activities social and in the relationship that the patient has with himself.

Science recognizes and emphasizes that the causes of depression are complex and relate to life events and circumstances (present and past), as well as the meaning that people attribute to them and the way they respond to them. But it can also seem like ‘out of nowhere’ and feel like we don’t have an explanation”, say the psychologists.

Therefore, psychologists want to disseminate practices to adopt to “deal with depression: recognize that we need help and seek it; psychotherapy (and medication); practicing self-care and resilience; strengthen the relationship with family and friends”.

As for advice aimed at people who may know someone who is depressed, the OPP suggests that they learn more about depression, encourage seeking help, offer support by being good listeners, encourage self-care habits, maintain contact, promote balance, be patient and persevering.

Psychologists warn, however, that the caregivers themselves (usually family and friends) of a person with depression may feel their well being affected and, therefore, they should pay attention to their own psychological health and seek help, particularly from psychologists, and point out that “we can’t ‘save’ anyone from depression.”

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