Did you know that an estimated 17.3 million American adults suffer from depression at least once in their lifetime?
This is a troubling statistic. But thanks to the increasing awareness about mental illness, people no longer have to suffer alone.
If you think that your loved one might be depressed — or if you suspect that you’re living with depression yourself — it’s worth learning about the tell-tale signs of this crippling condition. Here is a guide to the common symbols of depression.
Lack of Interest in Activities
Whether it’s a hobby or a dream job, people’s interests fuel their livelihood. Involvement in activities such as school, church, or athletics ensures that an individual is surrounded by friends and remains occupied.
If someone’s depressed, they tend to lose interest in activities they cherished before. Mostly, this is due to a preoccupation with negative thoughts and a struggle with self-worth.
Listlessness toward any activity that forces a depressed person into a social situation is very common.
If you notice that your loved one couldn’t care less about school, work, or a favorite activity, try to bring up the topic of negative feelings in a gentle way. It might not happen after just one conversation, but with persistent communication, you may be able to help him or her realize that they struggle with depression.
Distance from Loved Ones
People who experience depression tend to crawl into themselves, figuratively speaking. They withdraw from any contact with close friends and relatives for fear that their negative feelings will poison the social setting.
Depression is a mental state that holds on strongly to its victims. Therefore, people who suffer from it can especially push loved ones away when they’re offering support.
Keep in mind that communication with your loved one won’t be easy or fruitful if they’re depressed.
You cannot simply talk someone out of a depressed state or try to make them tag along with you in order to stay occupied. This is especially true if the individual is clinically depressed.
If your loved one seems withdrawn and doesn’t respond well to anyone who makes attempts to reach out, try to convince him or her to seek counseling. Remember that counseling is not a negative experience or something to be ashamed of. It’s a treatment for mental illness, much like seeing a physician is a treatment for physical illness.
If you portray counseling in a positive light, your loved one may eventually see the good in trying it out. Once they confide in a counselor, they’ll learn how to cope with their depression in a healthy way. Then, in time, they can reconnect with loved ones.
Do you see a change in routine or physical appearance in your loved one?
Sometimes, changes in eating habits develop in correlation with mental struggles. It’s not uncommon for people to suffer from an eating disorder and depression at the same time.
When a person is in a downward mental spiral, they become desperate to find something in their life that they can control. Food intake is an easy target.
Some depressed people seek comfort in food, while others push it away in an effort to starve themselves. Though eating disorders in people with depression can stem from a dissatisfaction with the way they look, sometimes the need to eat or starve is driven by feelings that have to do with the mental condition alone.
If you suspect that a loved one is suffering from binge eating, anorexia or Bulimia, help them seek medical attention immediately. Even when the loss of appetite is less drastic, it can still manifest into an eating disorder down the road. However, treating depression may also treat the change in appetite indirectly.
Sleeping Too Much or Too Little
While sleep is our natural way of recharging both physically and mentally, it can also be an escape mechanism for people who suffer from depression.
Low energy levels, combined with a lack of motivation, often cause a disruption in a person’s circadian rhythm. This can cause them to sleep throughout the day and stay up during parts of the night.
When a person’s circadian rhythm is disturbed, he or she experiences insomnia, which worsens their depression. At this point, the individual’s mind is weighed down with worries, fears, and a constant need to think. They’re not in the right headspace for sleep.
Changes in Hygiene
People who suffer from depression experience crippling fatigue that tends to interfere with their daily self-care routine. This is sometimes described as not having enough energy to get out of bed.
When a person’s self-esteem is shot and their energy is low, this takes a toll on their personal hygiene. Not only may someone with depression refuse to shower and groom, but they also may not care about keeping their home clean.
If your loved one seems to be lacking in the hygiene department, don’t judge them harshly. Tough love is not a remedy for depression.
Instead, offer to help them clean their home. Spend some time together and remind the person how much he or she means to you.
A reminder that they are loved and cared for is not usually enough to pull someone out of major depression. Still, it can help motivate them to seek professional help.
The Most Alarming Symbols Of Depression: Threats of Suicide
If your loved one ever mentions suicide or expresses negative views on their own existence, you should take them seriously.
Research shows that when people talk about suicide, it’s their way of asking for help. Suicide prevention is most successful when a person gets help early on.
In the U.S. alone, 7 percent of men and 1 percent of women who were diagnosed with depression die by suicide. Though this seems like a low number, most people who commit suicide never seek mental help, or they lack access to mental health resources.
It’s important to know that when a person is on the verge of suicide, they may not show it. People who seriously contemplate suicide intentionally don’t talk about it; they don’t wish to be helped at that point.
Therefore, if you suspect that someone you care about is depressed, check in with them as often as possible. Ask them honestly whether they’ve had thoughts of suicide, and don’t judge their answer if they say yes.
Suicide can best be prevented through ongoing conversations and frequent check-ins. Those who commit suicide truly believe that no one will miss them and no one cares. Showing your loved one that they are of value to you makes it more difficult for them to go through with any plan to commit suicide.
Do You Need Help with Depression?
Now that you understand some of the signs and symbols of depression, it’s time to get help for yourself or a loved one.
There is no need to cope with depression alone. This mental condition, like many others, can be treated through various gentle and scientifically-proven approaches. Request your appointment today and put an end to the depression plaguing you.