How to Spot If a Person is Feeling Depressed
Life is full of ups and downs and it is normal that we occasionally feel sad. But when that feeling overwhelms you and you start feeling empty all the time without being able to enjoy the things that used to make you happy, you are maybe dealing with chronic depression. If this is the case, you are probably finding it difficult to get through the day without the feeling of deep sadness or lack of will to do anything. Realizing that you are depressed can be difficult, but recognizing depression in another person can be even harder. Namely, when it comes to the people close to you it is easy to confuse the signs of depression with simple lack of interest, motivation, or something else, if you don’t pay attention to the behavior patterns. But if you knew that your friend or someone from your family is depressed, you will be more able to help that person overcome this condition. In order to help you spot depression in a person, here are some of the main symptoms which are in connection with the disease.
1. Lack of interest for the things that used to bring pleasure and happiness.
This loss of pleasure, called anhedonia, can be complete or relative. When it is relative, the person suffering from depression finds pleasure only in the things that don’t require much effort, like watching TV or playing video games, while when it comes to some things that require effort and attention they don’t seem to be willing to try nor do they find pleasure in them. These activities may include spending time with their friends or partner, doing some normal outdoor activities, playing with children, etc. This can really affect the people close to the depressed person, because they feel like they don’t matter anymore, and maybe even that the person doesn’t care for them anymore. The truth is that depression makes it hard for this person to engage in communication and activities with other people as it requires effort, and that is why he/she usually becomes withdrawn and antisocial. This is one of the earliest – if not the earliest sign of depression.
2. Changes in eating habits.
A person who is feeling depressed starts eating either too little or too much, and what follows is weight gain or loss. This can be frustrating for the partner of this person, because he/she starts thinking that the person has lost interest in having an intimate life and has therefore let himself/herself go physically. Consequently, the partner may start pressuring the person in question to gain or lose weight for the sake of the relationship, directly or indirectly, which may lead him/her into an even deeper state of depression. Offering support to your friend or partner when he/she is feeling this way may help him/her beat depression, while negativity and an offensive attitude can cause a completely opposite effect.
3. Having trouble sleeping.
Being unable to fall asleep, or waking up in the middle of the night once or many times, is definitely one of the signs of depression. This can cause nervousness and irritability in both the depressed person and his/her partner. The partner usually feels abandoned when he/she is left alone in the bed in the middle of the night, while the depressed person is trying to tire and exhaust himself/herself and fall asleep; or just sits awake and waits for the sun to rise. If your partner is dealing with this symptom, try to be supportive and don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s the depression.
4. Loss of self-confidence.
A person who is suffering from depression tends to lose self-confidence and stop being optimistic about anything having to do with the present state of things, or the future. If a person is usually self-confident and drastically changes in a short period of time, it is most probably a sign of depression. You can see this change in the way this person communicates with you and others, the way he/she talks about plans and wishes for the future. Usually, persons suffering from depression will show no hope in improvement or wish to make an effort to change that, because they usually don’t see the point of it.
5. Expressing negativity.
If you have a friend who always sees a negative side of things and discourages most of your optimistic ideas, he/she is probably dealing with depression. For example, you propose going on a trip which would usually make your friend or partner excited and enthusiastic, and he/she gives you a response such as “I don’t care”, or “What’s the point?”, or “I don’t know if I have the time for that” (when it’s clear that he/she doesn’t have anything planed for that day), you will probably think your friend is a downer, and he/she may even get you down. But don’t take this personally – try to help your friend see the positive side and cheer him/her up instead.
6. Frequently feeling angry or irritated.
Noticed that your friend or partner becomes frustrated very easily? He/she struggles to get through the day, and things that are usually easy to overcome suddenly seem much more difficult. This makes the depressed person feel even worse, because the simple things that didn’t use to be a problem to deal with now became not-so-easy to overcome obstacles.
7. Suicidal thoughts.
This is a very dangerous symptom, and maybe the most difficult to spot. These thoughts can be passive or active, where the passive form is followed by not caring about living or dying, while an active form is actually followed by thoughts and ideas about terminating one’s own life. A person who is suicidal can either stay quiet about it or tell someone close. If they tell you, don’t disregard it as a stupid, meaningless statement, but take it seriously and try to act preventively by providing support, kindness, showing love and maybe hiring a professional to help.