Depression can wear many disguises. These are symptoms of depression to look for in your loved ones.

Quick notes:

  • Depression is a mental illness that impacts an individual’s mood in a longlasting and detrimental way.

  • A depressed individual may experience emotional extremes, neglect their social groups, abandon their favorite activities, and engage in other isolating behaviors.

  • If a loved one is depressed, pointing them in the direction of professional treatment may help get them on the road to recovery.

What is depression?

Depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder, is a severe mental illness that impacts an individual’s mood. A person experiencing depression may feel extreme sadness, apathy, anger and hopelessness for extended periods of time, interrupting their daily lives. This can result in an individual withdrawing from their life, cutting off those who care for them and losing interest with experiences that once brought them joy.

Depression is a frightening and isolating illness, especially when it’s impacting someone we care for deeply. Symptoms of depression can sometimes be difficult to detect, especially since it makes sufferers feel like they are a burden and therefore must conceal their symptoms. However, many of the physical and mental symptoms that manifest can be identified as signs of depression—and may even save a life.

Tell-tale mental indicators

Depression masquerades in many costumes, from deep sadness to superficial happiness to extreme apathy. Signs associated with sadness are many of the first symptoms that loved one’s spot. Constant crying, low energy, anxiety, irritability, and anger may indicate that a person is depressed. People with depression may develop a pessimistic attitude towards life and express thoughts of hopelessness.

Still, depression doesn’t always show up as sadness, anger, or anxiety. In fact, depressed people can sometimes seem uber happy, especially as they try to mask their genuine feelings. If they are worried about exposing their depression to others, they may attempt to overcompensate for their negative feelings by acting euphoric about life. This falsified joy can be hard to spot, yet if their life sounds fault-free, they may actually be depressed.

Depression masquerades in many costumes, from deep sadness to superficial happiness to extreme apathy.

Another indicator of depression is extreme apathy. Many people with depression describe this as a feeling of numbness, detachment, or emptiness. For some people, this can result from suppressing their emotions into nonexistence, but may also occur alongside a crash of stress hormones. This apathy can be unbearable for a sufferer, as it makes it even more difficult to engage with what typically brings them pleasure.

The significant physical signs

Although depression is a mental illness, the disorder tends to manifest in numerous physical ways. A person with depression may struggle to care for themselves, resulting in poor hygiene. They might emotionally overeat and gain weight or lose their appetite/undereat and lose weight. They will likely appear tuckered out or exhausted, as the emotional stress of depression can knock anyone’s energy levels to the ground.

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People with depression tend to have a chaotic relationship with sleep. Some sufferers will experience constant tiredness struggle to get out of bed for days (or weeks) in a row. Others will be able to leave their beds yet have difficulty getting to sleep, experiencing insomnia, or only half-sleeping all night long. Both scenarios tend to result in low energy levels, irritability, anxiety, and exhaustion.

Another major red flag? They will usually spend far less time engaged in activities that tend to spark joy for them. They will struggle to get any pleasure out of their typical hobbies, and, as a result, will not see a purpose in engaging in them. If they are resting far more and putting less effort into their once-favorite activities, it may be a sign of depression.

The interpersonal cues

Many of a person with depression’s interpersonal relationships can cue you in on their mental state. This is why it is so significant for other individuals to notice the signs of depression in their loved ones and lend their support. How does depression manifest interpersonally?

A person struggling with depression will likely withdraw from friends and family as their depression drains them of the energy to maintain meaningful connections.

People with depression tend to feel like burdens to their friends and family. They will frequently pretend as if they are fine when they are struggling. The exhaustion of trying to maintain a positive profile will, at some point, be impossible for a person with depression to manage. If they fear that others may find out about their depression, they may stop attending social gatherings, neglect phone calls/text messages, or dip out of conversations as quickly as possible.

If you see the signs…

Talk to your friends, family members, and other loved ones if you believe they may be depressed. Encourage them to seek professional help. Since they’ll likely struggle with the motivation to do so, try to guide them in the right direction. This may include helping them set up a therapy/psychiatry appointment, taking them to these appointments, or simply serving as a positive presence in their support system as they attempt to return to wellness.

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