According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 260 million people suffer from depression and these are ones who have been diagnosed.
Depression—everyone seems to have different ideas and conceptions about this health condition. While some believe it is nothing more than passing blues, others think that it can be overcome with just positivity. Many still consider it a taboo and let millions of victims suffer in pain and shame all alone by themselves. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 260 million people suffer from depression and these are ones who have been diagnosed. There are many more who suffer in silence.
Maybe they don't know that what they are going through is more than sadness, or perhaps, they know it but do not feel safe enough to talk about it to anyone. While individuals are encouraged to reach out and seek help, it is not easy for them to take the first step. It is our collective responsibility to look out for one another and lend a compassionate ear and heart. While we may not be able to help everyone, we can always look out for our family members, friends, peers, neighbors, community members. If we notice that they may not be their usual self, it is important to look out for a few important signs.
Here are 5 signs to know if a person is silently struggling with depression.
If you notice your loved one or someone you know doesn't seem to be interested anymore in things they used to enjoy before, it could be a clear sign of an underlying issue. Loss of joy or pleasure in what used to make them happy or excited, clinically referred to as anhedonia, can be a classic symptom of depression, according to Psychology Today. This could include reduced capacity to feel happy or emotional contentment, lack of interest in social interactions and meeting friends, drop of interest in hobbies and areas of interest, a sense of aloofness when it comes to personal relationships, lack of sexual desire, and pretending to be happy and faking emotions when they can't genuinely feel it.
This could be a red flag if coupled with other symptoms. All of us feel purposeless or hopeless at times. But someone who is depressed may feel this for a prolonged period of time or feel it with such intensity that they lose the desire to engage with life positively. If this is coupled with feelings of worthlessness or consistent self-doubt, it might be a good time to initiate a conversation and listen compassionately without judgement. This would not be the time to tell them to toughen up or be strong. If you think the individual is exhibiting suicidal thoughts, experts say it is okay to mention the word or ask about it rather than leave them unattended in their own thoughts. Mayo Clinic lists the best ways to start the conversation and explains that this will not push them toward suicide, but rather give them a chance to talk about what they are experiencing.
If the person does talk, watch out words or phrases that indicate a sense of feeling overwhelmed, guilty, hopeless, anxious, or sad. Phrases such as these can be cues to ask further questions or to guide them to talk to an expert, explains Beyond Blue.
Life is just not worth it.
I can never be good at anything.
Nothing good ever happens to me.
I’m a failure.
It’s my fault.
Life’s not worth living.
People would be better off without me.
Watch out for the tone of voice and see if you can detect any of theme emotions as a recurrent theme in their life right now: overwhelmed, guilty, irritable, poor self-esteem, constant sadness, anger directed toward self, anxiety etc.
The mind and body are closely connected. When a person is depressed, their body will show signs of it through various physical symptoms. This includes insomnia, fatigue, signification weight loss or gain, a sense of heaviness (feeling weighed down), headaches and muscle aches, knot in the tummy or churning gut (also a sign of anxiety), loss or change in appetite. If your loved one complains of any of these or you notice any signs, the first step is to rule out physical factors. Talking to their GP would help understand these signs. According to Very Well Mind, depression can affect the body in numerous ways such as weaken the immune system, affect the psychomotor system, increase the blood pressure, cause gastrointestinal issues like nausea, bloating, indegestion, and constipation, and put you at more risk of chronic fatigue syndrom and fibromyalgia.
Does your loved one cry, get teary eyed, express irritability, or turn anxious more often than before? Do they get angry quickly or exhibit a sense of restlessness that indicate they are more vulnerable to stress or external factors than they were before? All these could be signs that they are overwhelmed with physical, emotional, or psychological stimuli and that their brain is unable to process emotions at its optimal capacity. Crying or showing vulnerability is healthy if it helps them releave pent up emotions; do not discourage them or judge them as weak or unprofessional. Psychology Today explains how depression and anxiety impacts our ability to regulate our emotions.