How can you tell if a loved one is depressed?
Depression might not always be apparent or easily visible to an observer. However, concerned friends or family might be able to identify a definite difference in the appearance and behaviour of someone experiencing depression. Here are some insights into behaviour that might help you identify signs of depression in a loved one.
You may notice that your loved one has been avoiding contact with friends and skipping social events recently. Do they seem more withdrawn or aloof than what they usually are? This could be due to a loss of interest in doing things they earlier enjoyed. Someone with depression is likely to decrease their level of interaction with people and choose to confine themselves to solitary spaces. Avoiding conversation and losing interest in everyday activities are common signs of an individual being depressed.
If your loved one often seems unusually sad, moody, short-tempered or exhausted, these might be signs of being depressed. They may also exhibit difficulties in concentrating and making decisions. There might be a tendency to appear disinterested or lost in thought, and crying spells might be common. They might also start dressing shabbily, speak in a lower voice and show an overall lack of interest for humor and entertainment.
You might be able to identify psychological symptoms of depression if you encourage your loved one to talk and listen carefully when they do. They might express feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, worthlessness, anger, guilt, or irritability. In addition, they might talk about wanting to die or having active suicidal thoughts. If they have tried harming themselves or reveal plans for doing so, it is important to encourage them to seek professional help.
A person with depression might often complain of fatigue, lack of energy and physical pain. You might notice visible changes in their lifestyle, such as increased substance use, a disturbance in their eating and sleeping habits, or a decreased sex drive. They may have also gained or lost weight rapidly in a short span of time.
It is important to remember that not all of these symptoms might be exhibited by the person. If you notice a significant amount of these, for a period of two weeks or more, it might be helpful to start a conversation with them about how they are feeling. A person struggling with depression might feel vulnerable and withdraw further if asked too many questions intrusively, so it is essential to be sensitive and gentle in your communication.
Depression can be treated by consulting a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or a therapist. Social support is extremely important to help someone with depression overcome their difficulties. Do not hesitate to extend your understanding and support, and encourage them to seek professional help.
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