Depression is one of the most troubling of illnesses. It can impact nearly anyone at any time. Many people who are depressed don’t fully realize it, and many people in their lives may have no idea. About 20 million people in America will be depressed every year and 25% of young people under the age of 24 will experience it at some time or another. It’s certainly not a rare condition.
What are the signs that someone is depressed, and what can you do to help?
1. They are less interested in things they used to like.
You have a friend who loves hiking, surfing, swimming, and hitting the bar on the weekends who suddenly doesn’t want to do any of it anymore. Seems unusual, right? Instead of forgetting about them and doing all those things anyway, realize that they might be depressed. If you think this is a result of depression, gently talk about where they’ve been and what they’ve been up to.
2. Being somewhat aloof.
When depressed, people often shy away from being in the company of others. When they do come out, they can be quiet, reserved, and negative. Much like #1, if you’re experiencing this with a friend, talk about why they’ve had such low self esteem and cancel social events at the last minute.
3. Sudden mood swings.
Depression can be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. These imbalances can lead to sudden mood swings in short periods of time. Not only that, but things that once got no rise out of them suddenly do, like a sarcastic remark. Understand this may be due to depression. Don’t judge them too hard.
4. Sudden weight loss or weight gain.
Depression can manifest as a sudden loss of appetite or a major increase in it. Drastic changes like this may be a sign of depression.
5. Suicidal ideations.
Death is hard to cope with, or even consider, and so suicide is often treated as a taboo not to be discussed. Sometimes the thoughts of suicide in a depressed person can be a byproduct of depression. Don’t try to handle it on your own if you know someone with suicidal thoughts. Seek professional help.