Depression is a serious condition that affects about 10% of the American population. That means you probably know someone who is depressed or may become depressed at some point in his or her life.
Spotting depression in a friend, family member, or co-worker is not as easy as most people think. Many will just look for the common signs: a person who is gloomy, listless, or sad. However, these signs are just a few indicators of depression.
If you are truly worried about a loved one, you have to consider more than what popular culture views as depression. You have to educate yourself about the hidden signs of depression that many people with the illness will exhibit.
Here are the signs!
Loss of Interest
People who are depressed will often lose interest in the activities they love. “People suffering from clinical depression lose interest in hobbies, friends, work — even food and sex. It’s as if the brain’s pleasure circuits shut down or short out.” (source)
A loss of interest is a clear warning sign that someone is depressed.
Difficulties with Sleep
People who are depressed will have problems sleeping. However, this is really a chicken or egg situation. Depression can lead to sleeping difficulties, and lack of sleep can lead to depression.
Change in Appetite
According to Gary Kennedy, MD, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York:
“Loss of appetite can be an early sign of depression or a warning of a depression relapse. On the other hand, some people can’t stop eating when they are depressed. A sudden change in weight, either gaining or losing, can be a warning of depression, especially in someone who has other symptoms of depression or a history of depression.”
Anger and Irritability
Sometimes, depression can manifest as irritability or anger. This is especially true for children or young adults who are depressed. This is because depression makes everything more difficult. Day to day normal challenges seem impossible to overcome and this can make a person angry. (source) If someone seems to get angrier more often, that could be a sign of depression.
Loss of Confidence
Depression will leave a person with little or no confidence or self-esteem.
According to Health Talk:
“Many people we spoke with said they felt low about themselves. Many described feeling “poor” or “embarrassed” about themselves, had a pessimistic or negative view of self and felt “inept” and “clueless”, especially in social situations. Quite a few described how they didn’t like who they were; they felt worthless and there was nothing good about them.”
This is a common feeling!
If a Loved One is Depressed
If some one you love or care about is depressed, there are some things you can do:
- Talk To Them About It: Start the conversation about depression and your worries. You can start by stating, “I have been feeling concerned about you lately” or something similar.
- Encourage: It is important to encourage your depressed loved one to seek help for their condition. Even something as simple as a weekly therapy session could make a big difference.
- Support: Once your loved one seeks professional care, it is important to support them through it. Learn what you can do to help them.
- Take Care of Yourself: Most important of all, you need to take care of yourself while supporting a depressed loved one. Set boundaries and seek support for yourself if you need it.
For a more extensive guide on how to help a loved one who is depressed, check out Helping a Depressed Person.