Despite what many people think, depression is not just simply a state of being sad. There really is not a mood swing that can happen overnight in which the sufferer no longer is depressed. Depression is a prolonged state of intense sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness that is often very tough to spot. Depression is actually fairly common, affecting one out of every ten Americans. While there are varying degrees and durations, it is important to understand how to spot severe depression and how to help.
How To Spot Depression
Depression can happen to anyone at any stage of life, making it difficult to spot. However, in general, those suffering from depression will display at least five the main characteristics common in with depression.
One of those key signs is a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed. For example, if a person loves to play the piano, they may have little to no interest in it anymore if they are suffering from depression. Depression will affect the person’s mood during most of the day but can often be more noticeable in the morning.
A person suffering from depression may also feel worthless or be racked by guilt on a daily basis. These thoughts can often be coupled with feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Thoughts that things will never get better can swirl through a depressed person’s mind. This often leads to an overly pessimistic attitude.
Depression can also lead to a lack of sleep and chronic fatigue. While a person suffering from depression can have insomnia, there is also a chance they can show hypersomnia, which is excessive sleeping. Regardless this increased fatigue will make it so that the sufferer rarely has the energy to leave the bed.
Those who suffer from depression can also gain or lose a significant amount of weight. This can be caused by lack of appetite or excessive eating.
Irritability and restlessness are also common traits of a person suffering from depression. They may exhibit signs of indecisiveness, have difficulty concentrating, and have difficulty remembering details.
On a physical level, a person suffering from depression may have constant aches or pains. They may have recurring headaches, cramps, and even digestive problems. While most of these conditions are treatable, they may not be in the case of depression.
Finally, a person suffering from depression may have thoughts of death or suicide. This empty feeling they now have along with their loss of pleasure creates a world for them in which there is no escape. This can be a catalyst for suicidal thoughts that can become extremely dangerous.
While that compiles most of the ways to spot depression, it is important to note that it is not all inclusive. There are a number of types of depression that can present different symptoms and conditions. For example there is major, chronic, bipolar, seasonal, psychotic, postpartum, and substance-induced mood disorder depression.
How To Help Someone with Depression
Helping someone with depression is extremely difficult. If you have never suffered from depression yourself this becomes even more difficult. Often times it is hard or even impossible to relate to a depressed person’s condition. People who are unaware of the causes and effects of depression are often confused as to why the person simply can’t change their mood or do something they enjoy to improve their mood.
If it were that easy, there really wouldn’t be any cases of depression. So the best thing you can do to help someone suffering from depression is to be their anchor of support. There is zero room to pass judgement, criticism, and even advice. Remember, depression can cause pessimism which can make even advice seem like a cynical kick to the stomach. Your best option is to openly listen to the person. Truly listen to what they are saying and going through and make it known that no matter what, you will be there for them.
More importantly, you should seek out professional help for the person suffering from depression. Severe depression cannot be quelled by just an open ear. The root of the depression and conditions need to be dealt with by a trained professional. Luckily, there are a variety of professionals out there ranging from healthcare providers, to therapists, to counselors.