When my friend told me about her previous struggle with depression, it was like a punch to the gut. I feel like the first thought is always, "Why didn't you tell me? I could've helped somehow."
But the reality that there's very little I could have done is almost as gut-wrenching as the thought of a close friend having this terrible struggle within herself. This is especially hard to recognize for the ones that are labeled as "the strong friend." They might seem to have it all together, but if you watch closely, there could be a serious struggle that they don't feel like they can talk to anyone about.
Despite being a minority group, black people are said to be 10 percent more likely than their white counterparts to suffer from depression. In tandem with that stat, black people are also far less likely to seek treatment for their mental health issues.
Thankfully, depression and mental health is no longer this taboo conversation that we have to try to ignore. With recent celebrities shocking the world with ending their lives and even the amazingly talented Michelle Williams bravely opening up about her struggle and her decision to seek help, now is the perfect time to address it and confront it head-on for those close to us. It's more than having discussions and "raising awareness," but is also about figuring out ways we can truly help and try to make a difference for ourselves and those around us.
If you believe, or are wondering, if one of your close friends, or even yourself, is struggling with depression, take a look at some of the most common warning signs below.
Withdrawing From Being Social
I think we can all agree that adulting is nothing to mess with. And there are countless memes that prove why going out for a fun girl's night isn't what it used to be. (i.e. "I'm sorry I couldn't make but I didn't want to come.") But laughter aside, this could be an indication that your friend is secretly dealing with depression. She might have been the life of the party at one point, but now wants to stay inside with no hope of resurfacing for interactions with friends.
If she seems extra down and you feel like there's very little you can do to help her to leave the house after weeks and months of trying, this is something you can't overlook. A good idea might be to have a girl's night at her place if she doesn't want to go out. Use that as an excuse to seriously check on her and ask her how she's doing.
Open up about your concerns that she's not who she used to be.
You might be surprised at how that effort could make her feel comfortable enough to tell you what's truly going on with her.
She Constantly Criticizes Herself
This is seriously the worst. Hearing a friend who you perceive as amazing constantly belittle herself is one of the worst feelings ever. But imagine how bad she must feel if she's saying these things out loud; not to mention what could be going through her head that doesn't make it into conversation.
While you might not feel comfortable addressing depression upfront, one thing you could do in moments like this is to stop your friend from talking bad about herself, and others around her. When she insults herself, tell her it's not true. And if it is true, give her loving words and tell her something that IS good about her anyway. Help her look in the mirror and see that she has something to offer that no one else can. Let her know that you go through your own issues and even think negative things about yourself at certain times. During these moments, one of the best things you can offer is reassurance. She might not know it, but it could be exactly what she's looking for.
Difficulty Eating And Sleeping
While some symptoms of depression are more hidden than others, not sleeping through the night and a loss of appetite are some of the most open ones. If you notice your friend hardly ever wants to eat, or on the other hand, eats emotionally all the time, there could be something she's going through internally. If she's also having trouble getting a full night sleep, or, on the flip side, wants to do nothing but sleep, this is also a possible indication of depression.
This one is a little bit more difficult to help with, especially if she lives by herself. You could go as far as bringing her lunch to work to make sure she eats. This would be a good time to have the discussion with her about her possible battle. It's also helpful to ask her in the morning how she slept the night before. If she consistently says she hardly got any sleep, ask her why she thinks that is. It could create dialogue if she doesn't realize she's struggling with depression.
Their Cryptic Conversations
You might be able to discover if your friend is depressed by something that's seemingly as simple as her words. If she hints toward the world being a better place without her, tries to even joke about suicide, says that no one needs her, you seriously have to listen and say/do something. At some point, it can get really discouraging as you realize your encouragement has a ceiling.
Trying to help a friend through depression is scary and we're not professionals.
As much as we want to save the day, there's only so much we can do. Let your friend know that either way, therapy is nothing she has to be ashamed of and encourage her as much as you can to get the help she needs while reassuring her that you're still by her side.
If you or someone you know is currently dealing with depression, check out this list of helpful resources over at Everyday Health.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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Charmaine Patterson is a journalist, lifestyle blogger, and a lover of all things pop culture. While she has much experience in covering top entertainment news stories, she aims to share her everyday life experiences, old and new, with other women who can relate, laugh, and love along with her. Follow Char on Twitter @charjpatterson, Instagram @charpatterson, and keep up with her journey at CharJPatterson.com .
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
There’s nothing quite as humbling as navigating adulthood with no instruction manual. Since the turn of the decade, it seems like everything in our society that could go wrong has, inevitably, gone wrong. From the global pandemic, our crippling student debt problem, the loneliness crisis, layoffs, global warming, recession, and not to mention figuring out what to eat for dinner every night. This constant state of uncertainty has many of us wondering, when are the grown-ups coming to fix all of this?
But the catch is, we are the new grown-ups.
As if it happened without our permission, we became the new adults. We are the members of society who are paying taxes, having children, getting married, and keeping our communities afloat, one iced latte at a time. Still, there’s something about doing all these grown-up duties that feel unnaturally grown-up. Enter the #teenagegirlinher20s.
If there’s one hashtag to give you the state of the next cohort of adults, it’s this one. Of the videos that have garnered over 3.9M views, you’ll find a collection of users who are overwhelmed by life’s pressing existential responsibilities, clung to nostalgia, and reminiscent of the days when their mom and dad took care of their insurance plans.
no like i cant explain to her why i had to buy multiple tank air dupes from aritzia #teenagegirlinher20s #fyp
The concept of being a 20-something or 30-something teenager is linked to the sentiment of not feeling “grown up enough” to do grown-up things while feeling underprepared and even nihilistic about whether that preparation even matters.
It’s our generation’s version of when we ask our grandmothers how old they are and they simply reply with, “I still feel 45,” all while being every bit of 76 years old. In this, we share a warped concept of time while clinging to a desire for infantilization.
Granted, the pandemic did a number on our concept of time. Many of us who started the pandemic in our early or mid-20s missed out on three fundamental years of socialization, career development, and personal milestones that traditionally help to mark our growth.
Our time to figure out and plan our next steps through fumbling yet active participation was put on pause indefinitely and then resumed provisionally. This in turn has left many of us hanging in the balance of uncertainty as we try to make sense of the disconnect between our minds and bodies in this missing gap of time.
Because we’re all still figuring out what the ramifications of being locked away and frozen in time by a global pandemic will have on us as a society, there really is no “right” way of making up for lost time. Feeling unprepared for any new chapter of life is a natural rite of passage, pandemic or not. However, it’s important to not stay stuck in the last age or period of life that made sense to us because self-growth is the truest evidence of personal progress.
So whether you’re leaning on your inner child, teenager, or 20-something for guidance as you fill the gap between your real age and pandemic age, know that it’s okay to grieve the person you thought you would be and the milestones you thought you’d hit before you ever knew what a pandemic was. If there’s anything that the pandemic taught us, it’s that we have the power to reimagine a better world and life for ourselves. And if we tap into our inner teenager as a compass, we can piece together our next chapter with a fresh outlook.
Sure, we’ve lost a couple of years, but there are still some really amazing ones ahead.
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Featured image by Stephen Zeigler/Getty Images