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7 Signs of Depression

Updated on January 4, 2017
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Are they suffering from depression, or are they just going through a rough patch? Detecting depression in others is easier if you know the person well and you see them often, so if you're thinking of someone you don't know so well, feel free to forward this article to a friend or family member of theirs. There are also many useful articles online for self-help, such as How Not to Lose Hope and Stress Relaxation Techniques.

Sometimes depression can come so gradually that even they themselves don't realise it's happening. Here are some signs to help you detect this illness. If you're sure they're depressed, there are some links at the bottom of the article to help you. You might ultimately be saving a life.

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They're negative about everything, especially themselves

There are optimists and pessimists out there, but has your friend started to be negative about absolutely everything lately, from the job interview they just had to the likelihood of rainfall tomorrow? People who are suffering from depression may not be super pessimistic about other people, necessarily, but your friend may stop having any kind of faith in themselves. If you hear the words "I can't do it", "I'm useless", "I'm stupid", then they might be suffering from self-hatred, self-loathing and crushed self-esteem, which are some of the side-effects of depression.

Everyone, of course, may say "I can't do it" at some time or another, but if it's constant and refers to everything, even small, easy tasks, then the alarm bells may start to go off.

They get really down if they can't do something - anything from getting a job to cooking breakfast

Even with the belief that they can't do something, your friend might still be devastated when they find they can't do something well the first time. This may apply to anything, such as a task at work or cooking breakfast. They might dissolve into tears if the sausages burn slightly, or cry in frustration if they drop something on the floor.

Even small mistakes that everyone makes just seem to reaffirm your friend's belief that they are useless. If your friend seems to overreact to every little failure - even minor things that don't even count as failures - it might be a warning sign of depression.

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They talk about death a lot

A terrible side-effect of depression is the thought, and sometimes attempt, of suicide. People who suffer from depression for a very long time often feel like there's no way out, and that their pain will never stop. WebMD says that "depression carries a high risk of suicide". Your friend might also talk about the afterlife or heaven, depending on what her beliefs are. Any talk of suicide should be taken very seriously, and there are several hotlines that they - or you, if you feel it's appropriate - should call.

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They don't socialise as much as they used to

One side-effect of depression is losing all willpower to socialise, pursue hobbies and have fun. The person you know might cancel plans with friends, make excuses to avoid being social, and stop their hobby of gardening or sports for no seemingly good reason. People who suffer with depression often don't feel any kind of motivation to do anything that they don't absolutely have to do - it's a terrible cycle, because avoiding nice things makes the depression stronger. Even though they'll avoid being social, they'll feel like their loneliness is suffocating them.

Observe your friend carefully - do they ever organise trips, get-togethers or parties? Do they willingly meet up for social outings? Do they go out of their way to pursue a hobby? If the answer to all three of these questions is no, then they might be suffering.

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They don't bother with errands

Similarly to avoiding being social and having fun, a person who is suffering from depression may not bother with small errands, even simple tasks like washing the dishes. It can be difficult for them to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone muster the energy to clean up their surroundings. If your friend has stopped bothering to so these small errands, a common excuse being 'what's the point?', then this can be a warning sign that they're depressed.

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They blame themselves for everything

Your friend might blame themselves for anything that goes wrong in their life or the lives around them, even things that they can't control such as the weather. An example of a depressed mother, for example, would be that she took her family for a picnic only to have it rain all day. She blames herself for choosing that day to go out, even though she, of course, didn't make it rain. Your friend might find a way for the fault to lie with them even with the most mundane issues, thus sinking them deeper into her spiral of self-hate and low self-esteem.

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They won't let themselves be happy

Someone with depression that manifests into self-hate and low self-esteem may stop themselves from being happy, purely because they believe that they don't deserve it. They may try to cut good people out of their lives, deny themselves treats or cancel plans that they were looking forward to. This sort of behaviour can seem bizarre to someone who doesn't know what they're going through, but it's important to understand that they don't want to do these things. It's a cry for help.

Did something cause it?

It's also worth thinking about if something has happened in your friend's life lately to make them feel this way. Possible causes of depression include, but are not limited to: divorce, moving house, loss of a loved one, being made redundant from their job, or any other huge life change. However, depression doesn't always come from a traumatic experience. Depression can also be hereditary. An individual is 40% likely to suffer from depression if one parent does, and 80% likely to suffer from depression if both parents do. Therefore, the friend you're worried about may just be depressed because of a chemical imbalance in their brain. It doesn't make the condition any less serious.

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      tom 2 years ago

      Great article, and one that can be very helpful to a lot of people. Depression and other forms of mental illness are heavily stigmatized in a lot of the world, and by bringing these symptoms to their attention you can help family members recognize a dangerous situation, and help the person suffering realize it's not their fault.

    • poppyr profile image
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      Poppy 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      You're absolutely right, Denise. Being supportive and showing you love them and willing to help is key. Thank you so much for your comment.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Depression tends to run in our family, and these questions have helped us many times to get the help needed for a family member. They may not be willing to get help for themselves, but when we express loving concern, and go with them to that appointment, they are much more likely to accept that something can be done for them.

    • poppyr profile image
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      Poppy 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thank you for your comment. I really hope this article will help people.

    • xInspiredx profile image

      xInspiredx 2 years ago from Arizona

      Hi, I read your question came straight to your hub. You did an awesome job. It's very true about depression.