Despite being one of the most common mental health problems out there, depression is commonly overlooked. Sometimes, the victim will brush it off as feeling tired or “a little down”. Other times, they won’t address it at all, and will just come off as being grumpy and distant. Although depression can manifest as all kinds of different things, it’s important to know the signs of this condition. This will let you keep an eye out for them in your friends and loved ones. Here’s some of the major symptoms you should be aware of.
First of all, a loss of interest in things which your loved ones had previously found enjoyable. This loss of interest is sometimes given the name anhedonia. While it may not always be complete, the loss of interest will seem to come out of the blue, and will certainly be noticeable. Usually, this manifests as a tendency towards recreational activities that require the least effort; video games, watching TV etc. In many cases, this is misinterpreted as rudeness or withdrawal from social circles. It can feel easy to approach your loved one and say “you spend all this time playing video games, but you barely have any time for me.” If they do in fact have depression, this self-centred attitude certainly won’t be helpful. Okay, this behaviour could really be down to laziness, although it’s rare for people to change so abruptly. However, it may also be one of the early signs of severe depression.
Sleeping difficulties are another common sign of clinical depression. This might manifest as having trouble falling asleep in the first place, or waking up in the middle of the night. You may notice your friend coming out looking like a zombie, and complaining about their sleeping patterns. Or, if you live with your loved one, you might notice them getting up in the middle of the night and doing arbitrary things. This latter situation may feel like neglect, or that your loved one has some kind of problem with you that they’re not telling you about. It’s important to consider these sleeping problems as a potential sign of depression. Sleeping issues can be the symptom of a wide range of conditions, and may be misdiagnosed. This in turn can lead to a serious prescription drug addiction, which will only serve to make the depression even more severe. Make sure to recognise sleeping problems as a possible sign of depression, and don’t let your friend or relative shrug it off.
Changes in the diet are another common sign of depression. It doesn’t matter if they’re eating too much or too little, deviating away from a healthy diet could be a serious red flag. This is not only hard to watch in someone you care about, but is extremely hard to bring up. Mentioning someone’s weight, even if you’re exceptionally close with them, can easily come off as rude. If you think there’s been a visible and abrupt change though, the worst thing you can do is ignore it. Some people think their friend or loved one is just getting lazy, and “letting themselves go.” This can lead to them looking down on the person in question, and even resenting them. Although this attitude may feel natural, be very wary of falling into it. An abrupt change in weight may be a sign that your friend needs serious help.
Finally, expressing negative or irritable thoughts. This is probably one of the most direct signs that someone you know may be going through depression. Depression makes ordinary, everyday problems much harder to deal with, which piles on stress and leads to a dejected attitude. Obviously, if your friend has had some bad news, or their work is in a particularly busy period, it’s natural for them to be a little irritable. However, if the issue seems to come out of the blue and is persistent, you should start to get worried. For example, let’s say there’s a subject you and your friend could usually go on about forever. When you bring it up, your friend could reply with something passive or even cynical. If you see these uncharacteristic changes, you should be concerned for your friend, and never hostile.
There you have some of the most common signs of depression. Although we all have days where we feel a bit down, depression is a serious condition which you really can’t afford to ignore. Be wary of these symptoms, and always let your loved ones know they can talk to you.