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Trying to understand what is going on in someone else’s mind can be difficult, especially if they are withdrawn and do not want to tell you.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.
The best approach can be to let a loved one know that you are there if they feel like talking. Having good rapport and trust with them will make it more likely that they will open up. Some people may have a depressive episode lasting a week or two and never experience the symptoms again. Others may have more persistent depression that can last a lifetime.
Signs of depression can include engaging in risky behaviors, loss of appetite, comments related to hopelessness, tiredness, insomnia, and a lack of enjoyment in once enjoyable activities. Signs can be different in men and women and in adults and teens. The most important task you can take is just to be there to listen and hope your loved one will choose to seek help if needed.