How can I tell if a friend or family member is depressed?

According to the World Health Organization, over 350 million people struggle with depression across the globe. It’s a universal problem.

Despite this, many sufferers are reluctant to share their diagnoses due to guilt or shame, common feelings associated with mental health disorders. Some of our closest friends and family members may be dealing with clinical depression on their own, hiding their symptoms out of fear they’ll become a burden to those they love. Others may not realize a recent mood swing has been caused by depression at all.

When a person close to us experiences an unexpected change in behavior, it’s important to consider mental health issues as a possible cause. But, symptoms aren’t always obvious. Below are a few tips for recognizing the subtle signs of depression.

While not everyone displaying the following behaviors will be suffering with depression, this list can act as as a guide in helping you determine whether or not to start a conversation about this all too common disorder with your loved one.

Signs of Depression

girl depressed on table at park
  • Fatigue

    Sufferers may feel low-energy despite getting their usual amount of rest, unable to complete daily tasks that normally caused no problems.

  • Aches and Pains

    Depression may be a mental disorder, but it has physical effects as well. Backaches, stomachaches, and all around pain and soreness are common symptoms.

  • Insomnia

    While some may find it difficult to get out of bed while depressed, others can barely sleep.

  • Irritability or Hostility

    Depressed individuals are often quick to anger, and have difficulty remaining calm even over minor issues.

  • Anxiety and Indecision

    Depression can cause an enormous amount of anxiety, making it difficult for those affected to make even simple decisions.

  • Substance Abuse

    Some may turn to drugs, alcohol or other vices to cope with depression in an unhealthy way.

  • Suicidal Talk

    This may seem like an obvious sign, but some individuals may bring up self harm without any indication that they are having serious suicidal thoughts. This can still be a sign of depression.

If your friend or family member is showing the signs or symptoms of depression, the best thing you can do is talk to her. Ask her how she’s feeling,  if she thinks she might be depressed. Encourage her to seek help, and let her know that she isn’t alone – Not only are millions of others dealing with depression around the world, but she also has someone who cares about her right by her side: You.

About Lehigh Center

The Lehigh Center is the largest independently run research facility in the Lehigh Valley. Our qualified physicians conduct clinical trials  to evaluate investigational treatments for specific diseases, including depression. If you are interested in leaning more about our current studies, please click the link below.