12.6  What can you do when you suspect someone has depression?

You will find that many of the individuals you find with depression in your community will have a mild illness and their depression will improve with some support from you, their family and friends. There is only a small group of people who will develop severe depression. Before discussing what exactly you can do to help both the individuals with mild and more serious depression, let’s talk about the key principles that will form the basis for your actions (Box 12.1).

Box 12.1  Key principles to consider when you encounter someone with depression

  • Determine how bad the depression is.
  • Ask if the person had a history of mania (excessive happiness or excitement).
  • Assess the level of risk (see Study Session 10).
  • Determine possible triggers of the depression.
  • Determine what kind of support is available for the individual.
  • You may need to refer if depression is severe or longstanding or if you are worried about the level of risk.

12.5  Mood disorders in the postnatal period

12.6.1  Determining how bad the depression is