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How to identify signs of distress in your loved ones

How to identify signs of distress in your loved ones

By Meenakshi Chopra, Clinical Psychologist

“A friend is someone

Who helps you up

When you’re down,

And if they can’t, they lay down beside you,

And listen.”

— Winnie, the Pooh

It has been over two months since we’ve been experiencing a nationwide lockdown. The lockdown was implemented as a public health measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. However, what we did not foresee was that this situation, although in our best interest, would affect our mental health significantly. With the rising number of suicides in the past few weeks, a need for strong community support is warranted. Coming together in this crisis is the need of the hour. Since it is not always practical to seek professional help, we need to be alert for red flags in three different areas in our loved ones- their general behaviour, emotional reactions, and thoughts expressed.

Sometimes there are clear indicators of distress which are easy to identify. However, there are times when these signs are quite subtle. It is, therefore, imperative to keep in touch with our loved ones so that we can provide them support as early as possible. Given below are a few questions which would help us in identifying signs of distress.

General behaviour

  • Are they sleeping less/ more than usual?
  • Are they eating less/ more than usual?
  • Do they look more withdrawn?
  • Do they look more restless or jittery?
  • Are they looking more lethargic and procrastinating tasks?
  • Are there any signs of self harm on their body?

Emotional reactions

  • Are they getting irritated/ angry easily?
  • Are they crying a lot more and / or smiling less?
  • Are they looking worried with furrowed brows?
  • Are they looking apathetic?

Thoughts expressed

  • Are they expressing negative thoughts about themselves or the future?
  • Are they talking about feelings of helplessness?
  • Are they expressing hopelessness?
  • Are they feeling worthless?
  • Did they mention that life is not worth living?

In case any of these signs are present, talk to them. Ask them if they are okay or not. Create a safe space for them. Rather than providing solutions, just listen. Let them know that you are there to provide support. In case they don’t seem to improve or if death wishes are verbalised, get professional help as early as possible. We, at Samvedna, are here for you. Please feel free to reach out to us in case you are stressed, anxious or have recurring negative thoughts. Connect with our specialist virtually. We offer online counselling sessions to help you with mental health issues. You can book a session and discuss your concerns with a specialist who can help you deal with your anxiety and stressors. The best time to get rid of negative emotions and challenges from your life is always now. So, book a session and vent out your concerns.

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Samvedna Senior Care, C-13 Anand Niketan, New Delhi