Knowing the signs of depression is one of the best ways to get ahead of the condition. As a supportive friend or family member, it’s possible to identify behaviors or patterns in someone you love and get them the help they need. More often than not, you notice small changes that are cause for concern. What can you do to help, though?
The last thing you want to do is diagnose someone with a mental health problem. It’s possible that someone can feel down without experiencing full depression. Clinical psychiatrists say that behavior that interferes with day-to-day functioning for a long time is a telltale sign of depression. Someone feeling this way can still engage in regular activities. It’s not as if depression patients are incapable of functioning. Clinical depression, however, can cause a general disinterest or withdrawal from friend groups and day-to-day activities.
Learn The Signs
Helping someone with depression is no easy feat. You may even feel helpless and not know what to do or where to start. The best place to start is learning how to identify the signs of depression. The following list includes common signs of depression.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in regular activities (hobbies, sports, or even sex)
- Changes in appetite (reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for unhealthy foods)
- General feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Anxiety, restlessness, or mood swings
- Difficulty focusing, making decisions, or concentrating
- Insomnia or too much sleep
- Slowed body movements, speaking, or thinking
- Feelings of worthlessness (fixating on past failures)
- Frequent mention of death or suicidal thoughts
People who have severe depression often make their symptoms noticeable, simply because of their declining mental health. They aren’t seeking attention from others. If you know someone who displays signs of depression, the following tips may help you help them in an encouraging, loving way.
It’s best to always put yourself in the shoes of the person with depression. Approach and talk to them in a non-judgmental way. How would you feel if you had to cope with depression? When you answer this question, you may better relate to the person you want to help. The most important thing you can do is listen, maintain eye contact during conversation, and support them. If you have personally dealt with bouts of depression, open up about it so that they know you understand.
Help Find Treatment
People with depression may require assistance in regards to seeking treatment. Not everyone wants to open up about depression because there is a negative stigma surrounding mental health. As mentioned before, don’t judge and do what you can to help if the person asks. If you know of a great treatment center or professional, recommend those services. Perhaps you have a therapist that has helped you in the past. Suggest this person and explain how seeing them helped you overcome feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, etc.
Identify If Treatment Is Not Working
Treatment isn’t for everyone, and it won’t work just because you recommend it. If treatment is not working, be on the lookout for signs that indicate that the condition is worsening. When treatment doesn’t work for someone, it can bring about feelings of worthlessness or suicidal thoughts. Cement the fact that life is worth living if the person makes statements or actions that may indicate suicide. Make an effort to try a different therapeutic method. If the person has guns, remove them from the home. Make sure that they are not hoarding medications. You may have to step in and talk to their provider to express the seriousness of the condition.
Don’t Fix Their Problems
Supporting a person with depression and recognizing their symptoms does not mean you can fix the problem. It does more harm than good to attempt to fix things for the person with depression. This is where treatment comes into play. Allowing a professional to step in and aid the person is often a better approach.
Be Assertive With Your Concerns
Many health experts recommend that openly talking with the depressed person about your concerns is beneficial. Address the issue and assert how you feel and if you have concerns. The important thing is to remind your friend/family member that they have your full support, especially emotional support. A great way to do this is by using “I” statements. For example, “I am worried about you,” or, “I’ve noticed this…” Don’t say things like, “You don’t seem like yourself lately.” Using “you” statements can create defensiveness and close the doorway to healthy communication and help.
There are many mental health resources available. Be it an in-person visit or through an app, many services exist to help people achieve better mental health. Don’t be afraid to seek help because you are not alone. Help is closer than you realize.