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Identifying if someone is depressed

Updated on June 21, 2013

Depression Hurts (more than just the person depressed)

First of all, depression is real. People can become depressed for many different reasons, from chemical imbalances to life being too difficult to handle at that moment. Either way, it is incredibly hard to identify if you yourself are going into a depression, so I am hoping that by writing this people can help their friends get the help they need.


If you know someone, please help them, depression may not have a cure, but you can live with depression as long as you take care of yourself and have a good group of support people to help you know when you are becoming depressed again.   The worst thing is to think the person will figure it out in time and just let them be, or to think that depression is just an excuse used by lazy people to not do anything. If the person is truly depressed, the last thing they want is to stay depressed. Trust me, I know.

Depression can affect many areas of the person’s life, but there is a simple checklist to go through if you think someone you know might be depressed.


Loss of interest in Everyday Life

They have lost interest in the activities they used to enjoy quite a bit. It may be difficult to notice this, it may take more convincing to get them to do things they would normally ask you to do. They could also try and rationalize that they are just tired or had a long week.

A Change in Eating Habits

They have changed the amount they usually eat (this could be eating more or eating less). The key here is “change”. If they normally don’t eat very much and suddenly put away three plate loads of food, that is a big change. It may not be easy to tell, but if you watch your friend or loved one during each meal and know what they usually do, it will become apparent that something is not right.

Lack of Energy/ Everything Takes more Effort

They are complaining about always feeling tired. Just getting up in the morning or trying to do the normal daily activities take more energy. People may also complain about feeling like they are walking around with weights on their arms and legs. Everything in life seems much harder than it used to be, even and especially getting up in the morning. This really goes together with the next one. Not only are they always tired, but they probably complain about sore muscles and headaches.

Change in Sleeping Habits

They have changed the amount they sleep (again, this could mean sleeping a lot more or hardly sleeping at all). Depression can affect the deepest level of sleep (R.E. M.) in some people so when they do sleep they do not get much rest out of it. They will typically give up on sleep, since it doesn’t help anyway, or try to get more sleep to see if they can make up for the loss of good sleep.

Seem to get Upset Often

They are easily irritated at small or simple tasks. They have a lot of trouble controlling their emotions: anger and sadness are the most common. They have trouble controlling their emotions in others ways as well, they cannot stay on the same emotion for very long or they do not understand why they are feeling the emotion they are currently feeling. It is even more frustrating when you don’t know why you are crying than if you are always crying.

Lack of Concentration

They have trouble concentrating on simple tasks, which will make them irritated even more. The brain is struggling to make more chemicals to help the body deal with its depression. They could also be sleep deprived and that makes even the simplest task seem difficult. With depression, each task is weighed by how much effort it would take to accomplish the task, and there is a clear threshold for most people. If the task takes too much effort, staying in bed is much easier.

Complaining of Low or No Energy

They have a very low energy level. Due to lack of sleep or lack of motivation they will not do much. Just being depressed takes a lot of energy and there is not much to spare for everyday tasks. Life becomes more and more painful just to be around other people who are happy and have energy.

Feeling Worthless

They feel worthless or that their life does not matter to anyone (which can lead to thoughts of suicide). They will start to become quiet and withdraw from normal activities. While this is an extreme side of feeling worthless, suicide is an ever present danger with people who are severely depressed.

Getting Them Help

If you know anyone that has several of these signs and has exhibited these signs consistently for more than 2 weeks you need to get them to help. However, the most difficult part is to convince them to go see a Dr. or a specialist to help them. If they feel worthless than they may think no one would be willing to help them anyway so why should they bother getting help. It is important that you keep talking to them and convince them to see someone soon, the sooner they can get help and possibly on medication (although it is not always needed, it can help in most cases) the sooner they can start behaving like they did before they were depressed. If it is just a situational depression (life is just REALLY hard right now) then medication will only be temporary and they can go about their life. If it is an imbalance, they need to find out what sets off their chemistry (it could be certain foods, certain times of the year, or something else, but a specialist will be able to help them find out the warning signs and get them started on the right path). Depression is a horrible experience, everything is considerably more difficult, and the emotions are felt more severely.

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