How to Spot Depression in a Loved One

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Experiencing Depression

People can experience depression and not realize it. People can go through a rough patch and think they are experiencing clinical depression when they are really having a normal reaction to trauma. The good news is that there is help for either situation, and the label or official diagnosis is not always that important.

Signs of Depression

Some signs of depression are obvious: not wanting to get out of bed and losing interest in things that were once enjoyable. Some experience suicidal ideation, where, at a minimum, they have thoughts of hopelessness and not really wanting to be alive anymore but no plan or intent. When a realistic plan or intent is involved, an immediate call to 9-1-1 is warranted. Even the slightest thoughts related to death or suicide warrant counseling.

Recognizing Depression Symptoms in Someone Else

Trying to understand what is going on in someone else’s mind can be difficult, especially if they are withdrawn and do not want to tell you. In those cases, having them talk to a professional may be warranted. Introverts may make it more difficult to tell if they are depressed or just want to be alone. Helping loved ones understand that life can be tough and struggling is normal can help them to open up and perhaps to seek help.

Broaching the topic of depression can be difficult. It is important to not come across as confrontational or judgmental. Forcing someone to talk about their emotions is not a good idea, but you can let them know you are there for them. Trying to force someone to go to counseling or to sign them up without asking can also lead to conflict and more distress.