Does your friend need help and maybe more than just a shoulder to cry on? These are seven evident signs of depression in someone you may know.
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Millions of people around the world, from every profession and cultural background, can feel both severe and mild, chronic depression. Depression is a normal reaction of the body and mind, indicating that perhaps a person needs to slow down and face issues head-on. Depression can be a very serious issue, triggered by a multitude of reasons (including trauma, chemical imbalances in the brain, a poor diet), and many people are not able to crawl out of the darkness of depression alone.
Even people that smile, are social, and seem "successful" can be suffering from depression
Yes, there are sure symptoms of depression, but note that not every person will display these in the public sphere. While someone may be the most talkative person in the room or extremely selfless and active in volunteering or other social causes, they may be experiencing deep pain internally.
Addressing depression head-on early in the process can help your loved one from spiraling into deep despair. These are some symptoms to look out for in your loved one that you suspect may be feeling down.
- Extreme changes in weight and/or eating patterns
People’s relationship with food can be very emotionally-charged, leading depressed people to cling to food or binge eat to feel comforted. For some, depression results in a lack of interest in food. Notice if the person seems to be rapidly exhibiting weight loss or gain.
- Loss of interest in activities
A loss of passion and zest for life is a very common symptom of depression. Has your friend dropped off from sports teams, going to the gym, reading, painting or another activity that used to excite them? How to do they fill their time when they are not with you? When is the last time that you heard them speak about a topic with excitement?
- Social isolation and avoidance of social interactions
The person is often canceling meetings last-minute or not showing up, is not responding to phone calls or messages, and potentially has very elaborate (and potentially made up) excuses for why they cannot meet. Depression can lead people to go to extreme lengths and act “out of character” to avoid facing social engagements.
- Anger, irritability, and rapid mood swings
Simply waking up, getting dressed, showing up to work and social engagements, and even going through the normal motions of the day can be excruciatingly difficult for someone with depression. Extreme mood swings can be a common occurrence.
- Negative commentary
Negative comments, self-doubt, and self-loathing may increase during depression. Loss of hope and optimism is common for depressed people as well. If you notice your friend making such remarks, this could be a good opportunity to continue the conversation and ask them why they said a certain remark or to sit them down and ask them how they’re really feeling.
If your friend is expressing suicidal ideas or thoughts, seek professional help immediately, such as calling an emergency suicide hotline or the person’s therapist, if they have one. Such comments mark that help is urgently needed.
- Issues sleeping or sleeping too much
Insomnia, troubles falling and staying asleep are common with people feeling anxious and/or depressed. On the other end of the spectrum, people experiencing depression may also be choosing to sleep and stay in bed rather than face the day.
- Physical appearance
Many people facing depression simply lose the interest, energy and will to take care of themselves. You may notice a change in personal hygiene, a sullen and tired look on their face, and constant lifeless/listless facial expressions.
- Increased use of substances
Alcohol, drugs (both prescription and illegal), and stimulants can be more frequently abused during depression, especially when a person does not know how to deal with their emotions and is looking for an outlet to numb their pain. Self-destructive behavior is especially linked to feelings of hopelessness associated with depression.
What are the causes of depression?
While life may seem great for your friend from the outside, they may have experienced past trauma that is impacting their ability to function and feel comfortable. This is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which has a high-incidence among veterans. Depression can also be caused by major life changes, such as moving abroad and starting life as an expatriate, or with family changes, such as divorce or having a baby. For many people, workplace anxiety and stress from their job can also carry over into their personal life.
How to help a friend with depression
If you suspect that your loved one is depressed, help them get help. This starts with a conversation with the depressed person and potentially their family. For many depressed people, it is hard to make the first step in finding a professional to guide them out of depression. You can help them by talking to people in your network to get recommendations for health experts, or search through RingMD’s online directory of professionals in your area. Whichever method you choose for finding a therapist, this article can help you (and your friend) prepare for therapy and find a suitable mental health expert to help them feel better.
Keep in mind that depression with vary from person-to-person
There are some general trends in how the elderly, adult men, adult women and children exhibit depression, including:
- Depressed elderly may be more open about losing hope in the future, “not seeing a purpose of living anymore”, evidently losing interest in activities and complaining about physical pain.
- Depression among adult women is very common after giving birth, known as postnatal depression / postpartum depression. It is estimated that one in seven women may be experiencing postpartum depression, and women may experience cyclical depression related to their hormonal changes throughout the month.
- Depressed adult men may have a pronounced risk of manifesting their depression with risky behavior, substance abuse, anger and sleep problems. Paternal postnatal depression (being depressed after having a baby) is also common for new fathers.
- Depressed teens can exhibit pronounced mood swings, irritability and anger, especially around family members.
Take care of yourself when taking care of your love ones!
Taking care of a depressed person can have a negative impact on you. Make sure to check-in with yourself that you are also not depressed and seek professional help for yourself if you are feeling the symptoms of depression. This article may help you cope with and manage as you support your loved one. You are not alone in your endeavors!
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