Do you think you’d be able to tell if a loved one is depressed?
It’s not as easy as you may think to determine when someone is living with this common form of mental illness. Depression comes with a long list of symptoms that can look different from person to person.
If you suspect your loved one is depressed, encourage them to see a healthcare professional to be assessed. The doctor will ask a number of questions designed to determine whether or not they are depressed. Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor can discuss treatment options, such as a combination of medication and counseling.
Everyone feels sad or down from time to time, especially if they have experienced a significant loss. While some people think of depression as a deep feeling of sadness, others who have experienced this common form of mental illness would say that it’s more like a lack of feeling. Depression can make it virtually impossible for those affected by it to experience joy or pleasure in their life.
This mood disorder interferes with an affected person’s moods, thoughts, energy level, appetite, sleep pattern, sex drive, and more. The changes have a marked impact on everyday activities, as well as relationships with others.
Women and men don’t necessarily experience depression in the same manner. Women may tend to become emotional or weepy. For men, depression can look like irritability or anger.
How to Tell if a Loved One is Depressed: Signs to Look for
There are a number of signs of depression you should be aware of. The more indications your loved one is exhibiting, the more likely it is that they are living with depression and need professional help.
• Feeling Hopeless or Helpless
It’s quite common for people who are depressed to feel hopeless or like nothing is going right in their life. They may also feel helpless and believe that nothing they do will change things for the better. The depression can make someone feel stuck, with difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
• Loss of Interest in Hobbies and Social Activities
Depression robs a person of the ability to experience pleasure and enjoy their life the way they did previously. If your loved one starts to appear indifferent to the things they previously enjoyed doing and it’s a recurring pattern, this could be a sign of depression.
• Changes in Appetite
Appetite changes for people with depression vary. Some people experience an increase in appetite and may gain weight during a bout of depression. It’s easy to see how this could happen; a person who is depressed is likely to be drawn to higher fat, higher sugar “comfort foods” as opposed to lower calorie, lower fat options.
Other people experience a lack of appetite while depressed. Food doesn’t appeal to them and they don’t feel hungry. This can result in a weight loss of five percent of their body weight in just one month.
• Sleep Changes or Disturbances
Depression can play havoc with someone’s sleep. This form of mental illness can make it very challenging to get to sleep or to stay asleep. In some cases, depression looks like exhaustion and your loved one may start spending more time in bed than usual.
• Lack of Energy
It can be very difficult for someone who is depressed get everyday tasks accomplished. The person may feel as though they are walking through waist-deep water every time they try to something. The tasks they try to do take longer and require much more effort than normal. On a really challenging day, it can be difficult to summon the energy to get out of bed!
• Mood Swings
A depressed person may have difficulty controlling their emotions. They may become angry over small incidents or may burst into tears at the slightest provocation (or no provocation at all). The person who is depressed may not understand why their emotions are all over the place, either.
• Fixation with Death and Dying
It’s perfectly normal to think about death sometimes. When it becomes the main topic that someone focuses on, then it could indicate that a person is depressed. Some people who are depressed get so low that they feel their family would be better off without them (not true!) or that they don’t have anything of value to offer the world (also not true!).
A person who starts to give away prized possessions or who talks about how “it won’t matter much longer” is at high risk for self-harm. Don’t be afraid to ask your loved one if they are having these kinds of thoughts. If they aren’t, you won’t “put the idea of suicide into their head.” If they already are thinking of hurting themselves, you won’t be doing anything to “push them over the edge.”
You need to find out whether their thoughts have escalated to planning to hurt themselves. At that point, you have an emergency situation on your hands.
Get Immediate Help for a Suicidal Loved One
When dealing with a loved one who may be suicidal, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Call 911 or your local emergency number. Remove anything that can be used to cause harm from the area while you wait for help to arrive. This includes sharp objects, anything that can be tied around the neck, cleaning supplies, guns, and medications.
It’s not uncommon for people with substance abuse issues to also have a history of depression, anxiety or other mental illness. Great Oaks Recovery specializes in treating clients with a dual diagnosis. Our experienced staff can help your loved one move into recovery and get appropriate care for depression at our residential treatment center.