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How to Tell if your Loved Ones are Suffering from Depression

Updated on October 29, 2017

Do you think someone you love has depression? Do they show subtle screams for help? If you are starting to suspect that your child, your friend, your spouse, or anyone you are close to has depression, you have to make sure that you handle the situation delicately. This mental illness is a real struggle, and shouldn't be taken lightly.

So, how can you tell if your loved ones have depression? Is it the actions that they show? Their daily routines? Their habits? Their outlook on life? Remember, anyone that can be going through depression knows how to hide it well, which is why you need to pay close attention to the signs.

If you want to help, but you are not sure how you are supposed to handle the situation, don't worry because we have you covered. In this article, we will be discussing some of the early signs of depression, and how you can approach the situation correctly without making it seem like you are the enemy.

What is Depression?

Before you can help another person, you have to be able to help yourself by understanding what a person with depression is going through. It's not enough to say, "I understand you," especially if in reality you not know how they feel, and how they will react to your words.

So, what is this mental illness? To break it down, Depression or otherwise known as Major Depressive Disorder, is a common but serious medical illness, that affects a person negatively regarding how they feel, the way they act, and how they think. It causes feelings of sadness, loss of appetite, loss of interest in daily activities that they once enjoyed, etc.

It is important to know that if you are willing to help a depressed family member or friend, you need to know how they react in certain situations, what triggers them, what makes them angry, what makes them sad, etc.

If you do not know anything about depression, these pieces of information might be able to shed some light on the situation a little further.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Changes in appetite: either weight gain or weight loss that is not associated with their daily diet.
  • They have severe insomnia or sleep too much.
  • Increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech.
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • They have difficulty making their own decisions.
  • They are usually suicidal and have regular thoughts of suicide.

What is the difference between Depression and Sadness?

Some of us might be guilty of mistaking sadness with depression when in reality it is an entirely different emotion. We can understand that the death of a loved one, losing your job, or ending a long-term relationship with your spouse is a painful experience to endure. However, feeling sad or grieving about the person you lost is a perfectly reasonable emotion to feel.

For someone who is going through this, they may often describe themselves as being "depressed." But being sad and being diagnosed clinically with depression is entirely different. This process of sadness is natural and unique to each person who goes through it. Both sadness and depression may involve intense feelings of sadness and withdrawal from their usual activities. But they are also essential and different:

  • The loss of a loved one can come in waves, often mixed with positive and negative memories of the person. With depression, the interest or mood of the person is decreased for more than two weeks.
  • For the loss of a loved one, you can still be able to maintain your self-esteem, but with depression, the person can experience extreme feelings of self-loathing and worthlessness.

Don't disregard, however, that for some people, the death of a loved one can trigger a major depression. Being a victim of physical assault, losing a job, being involved in major disasters, can lead to depression for some people. When both of these emotions co-exist, the feeling can become more severe and lasts longer than those people who experience grief but without depression.

Despite the overlap between these two emotions, they are both very different. Being able to help a person distinguish depression from sadness can help people get the treatment and support they need to get by.

Do's and don'ts of handling a person with depression

Take note, that people with depression are very delicate people. You must first know how to handle the different situations first, before you can help them further.

  • Do not take a person with depression personal – there are a lot of symptoms of depression that people might misunderstand, which is why it is important to know how a person with depression thinks.
  • People who have this condition have difficulty connecting with a person they love or like in a deeper level emotionally. Which means they have no sensitivity left in them to notice that they are doing something wrong or saying something hurtful. Sometimes they will tend to say very hurtful things and lash out in anger for reasons that are unknown to a normal person.
  • Always remember that these tantrums that they will regularly be throwing at you are not voluntary. The effects of depression cause them mentally, so try not to take anything they say personally, because it will only hurt you more to see that they somehow do not care about how you feel.
  • Do not try to “fix” the depression – do not try to be superman or superwoman by trying to save your loved one or friend from their depression. it is not up to you to fix their depression, nor can you. Do not feel bad if you cannot do anything to help out. Happiness and recovery will depend on the person who is depressed. If they do not help themselves, that is not in your hands to fix. All you can do is support and be there when they need you.

If you know someone who is going through this process, the information above will be able to help you save these people from hurting themselves further. Additionally, it will also be a great way for you to understand them better. If you think you can't handle the situation, ask for help. Don't do it on your own, it will be better to ask for help from a professional.

© 2017 natashamichelle07


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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      11 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      When my husband has bouts with his depression, he tends to "turn off" his emotions, in other words, he becomes emotionally numb or cold. He doesn't want to answer the phone, the door, or go places where he thinks that others will notice him, rather, he retreats into a world all his own. He doesn't talk much, and he spends long hours in front of the computer or television. When we try to talk to him, he lashes out, thinking that we are trying to "fix" him. He is really down on himself and will say hurtful things to keep others away. It is hard to know what to do.


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