Feeling down and sad from time to time is a normal feeling. Sadness is part of the normal range of emotions that a person can feel now and then. A person can feel sad after failing an exam, breaking up with their partner, or getting fired from their job. But eventually, this feeling of sadness will fade once the person accepts the situation, moves on, and learns to cope with life’s challenges in a healthy way.
If your loved one is feeling down, it’s already part of your instinct to reach out, listen, and help them get over their sadness. But how can you recognize if your loved one is only feeling down or if they’re already going through something more serious? What are the signs and symptoms of depression that you should look out for?
What Is Depression?
Sadness and depression are often deemed similar by most people. In reality, they’re two very different things, and you must know how to tell the difference. Sadness is temporary, and it’s a normal reaction after a person feels upset over something. Meanwhile, depression is a much deeper concern. It’s a long-term condition that could last for months or even years if left untreated.
Depression can make a person feel hopeless, empty, and lifeless. What’s more, these feelings don’t just go away. Depression can change how you feel, think, or function in your day-to-day life. It can restrain your performance at work, school, and even with your day-to-day activities. This includes an impact on your appetite, sleep, and overall outlook in life. Even the idea of getting through the day is already overwhelming. However, remember that these feelings of hopelessness and emptiness are only symptoms, and it’s not the reality of a person’s situation.
Signs And Symptoms
When you understand the causes and recognize the different signs and symptoms of depression, it’ll be easier for you to reach out to your loved ones, help them overcome their problem, and look for proper depression treatment. The experience of depression can vary for each person, but some signs and symptoms are commonly felt by most people. Keep these symptoms in mind and see if one or more of these are manifesting in your loved one’s life.
Feelings Of Hopelessness
As mentioned earlier, one of the dominant feelings a depressed person can experience is the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. This can affect the person’s overall outlook in life. Watch out if any of your loved ones are starting to say things like ‘What’s the point?,’ ‘I’m pointless,’ ‘I’m a failure,’ ‘Nothing good is happening to me,’ and other things that may seem like they have lost hope that things will get better. These expressions may reveal their belief that nothing they do or say can improve their situation.
When a person is depressed, they’ll start losing interest in the things they once enjoyed or loved. For instance, if your loved one used to love traveling or play outdoor sports and they suddenly stopped doing any of these activities for several weeks, it may be a telltale sign that they’re experiencing depression. They may start to withdraw themselves from activities that once excited them. Simply put, depression can take away the pleasure and joy from the things you once loved.
Changes In Appetite And Weight
It’s normal for a person to experience changes in weight or appetite if they’re following a particular diet or are exercising a lot to try to lose or gain weight. However, if your loved one is suddenly starting to lose or gain weight despite not making any conscious changes to their fitness and diet, that may suggest the presence of depression.
Some depressed people turn to food as a way to comfort themselves. They tend to overeat as a way to cope with their negative emotions and end up suddenly gaining weight. Meanwhile, some depressed people lose their appetite due to their loss of motivation to do anything, including eating. In turn, they lose a massive amount of weight.
These drastic weight changes can also worsen depression as weight changes can adversely affect your loved one’s self-esteem. So, whenever you notice sudden changes in your loved one’s weight or appetite, reach out to them and be there for them. See if they’re facing any issues they’ve never uncovered to anyone.
Changes In Sleep Habits
There’s a strong connection between your mood and your sleep. Since depressed people are often not in their usual mood, their condition may affect their sleeping patterns. Lack of sleep will only worsen depression, and depression will make it harder for a person to even try and sleep. Thus, the depressed person may develop sleep disorders.
Aside from lack of sleep, some depressed people tend to oversleep. This is due to the increasing amount of tiredness and fatigue they’re feeling. When your loved one is noticeably starting to show problems of oversleeping or sleeplessness, talk to them about what’s bothering them. If possible, or if you and your loved one live under the same roof, be there for them by adopting healthy nighttime habits with them.
Outburst Of Emotions
Another noticeable sign of depression is when a person shows random outbursts of emotions. Instead of appearing sad and lowly, some depressed people tend to hide their depression by displaying feelings of anger, irritability, restlessness, and sometimes even violence. Almost anything and everything can get on their nerves, and they tend to have a very short temper.
For instance, a person can suddenly feel agitated and angered over something in a minute, then the next minute, they can be crying uncontrollably. This roller coaster of emotions should be noticeable to those who are paying attention. If your loved one is displaying these outbursts, be alert as that can be a sign of depression.
People with depression tend to impose unnecessary guilt on themselves. This is especially true if your loved one had been through a traumatic event in the past or has lost a loved one and ended up blaming themselves even if they shouldn’t. So, be aware of your loved one suddenly telling you things like, ‘It’s all my fault,’ ‘I feel guilty,’ ‘I didn’t do anything, and I should’ve,’ and other statements that impose self-loathing. Talk your loved ones out of this self-guilt and remind them that they’re not responsible for whatever happened in the past.
The Bottom Line
If you think that your loved one is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, reach out to them immediately and talk to them. The last thing you’d want to do is leave them on their own to fix their debilitating condition. Depression is treatable as long as you help them and encourage them to pursue depression treatments. But remember, the best way you can help your loved one recover from depression is by extending patience and empathy.