Your loved one has truly forged a beautiful, successful life for themselves. Their career is thriving, they have a family that loves them, they have an abundance of friends and their personality is like a magnet – where people seemingly flock to them and want to be in their presence.
You think, with a life described as such, depression can’t be present, can it? But you ask yourself this question rhetorically. Deep down, you sense something is going on with your loved one. You can’t quite put your finger on what it is, but your intuition has you thinking depression.
Without knowing how to tell if someone is depressed, the exact cause of their off-kilter demeanor can seem near impossible to declare.
What is Depression, Exactly?
Depression isn’t one-size-fits-all, and it “looks” different on every individual struggling with the mental health disorder.
As a common but complex and serious mental illness, depression is a disorder of the brain where certain life events or circumstances cause a shift in the brain’s chemical functioning.
Imaging technologies – such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) – have revealed that a depressed brain displays different functionalities than a normal brain.
Depression negatively affects how a person feels, the way they think and how they act. Often times, a depressed individual doesn’t know why they feel depressed.
Generally speaking, depression causes feelings of sadness – which can become intense – and prompt the loss of interest in hobbies, activities, events or social and familial outings – anything that the individual once loved to do.
Overall, the illness of depression can lead to a wide array of emotional and physical issues and can significantly hinder an individual’s ability to focus and function at home and at work.
How to Tell If Someone is Depressed
It is a natural part of life to feel sad and down sometimes. Everyone experiences these feelings periodically throughout their life.
Depression, however, is different from occasional sadness, as it lasts longer and is more severe. Depression is also not reserved for a certain age, race or sex. It does not only seep into the lives of the poor, homeless and struggling. Depression can and does affect anyone.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 17 million Americans suffer from depression each year.1 But, like addiction and a long list of other mental health conditions, depression is almost taboo to talk about. And, thus, it’s mostly swept under the rug by people who hear about it and people who live with it.
Indeed, one of your neighbors may be depressed and you would never know. Or, one of your colleagues may contend with severe depression but put on a brave face and hide what he or she is going through every day.
Depression can be hard to identify outright, and, understandably, you may feel uncomfortable asking your loved one if they feel depressed. But if you suspect your loved one is suffering from depression, you need to know the signs of depression.
Signs a Person is Depressed
In addition to feelings of deep, prolonged sadness, signs of depression may include:
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Increased sleep (or difficulty sleeping/falling back asleep)
- Experimenting with drugs or alcohol (coping mechanism)
- Consuming more alcohol than normal (coping mechanism)
- Changes in appetite
- Weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Loss of interest in once loved things and activities
- Missing school or work
- Slowed movements and speech
- Negative attitude
- Feelings of failure or personal weakness
- Expressed feelings of worthlessness and helplessness
- Withdrawal from social interaction
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Supporting a Loved One with Depression
While depression is hard on and painful for the individual suffering with the disorder, in a different light, it is just as hard for individuals who have to watch their loved one wrestle with this darkness every day.
If you notice any signs of depression, don’t ignore your hunch. As a friend or family member, you are your loved one’s biggest advocate and you hold an incredible power in getting them the help they need.
Of course, only a medical professional can make a clinical diagnosis of depression, but you can bring awareness to your loved one and let them know that you are ready and willing to support and love them every step of the way.
Depression and Alcohol or Drug Abuse and Addiction
Depression can take over one’s entire life. On days when the sadness and emptiness are too much to bear, some individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. This coping mechanism, however, can lead to abuse and addiction, and one severe condition compounds another.
Because of this risk, early detection of depression and/or a drug or alcohol problem could save your loved one from even harder, life-damaging days ahead.
If your loved one is suffering from depression and using drugs or alcohol to drown out the pain they feel, there is powerful, life-changing help and support available to them.
Co-Occurring Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Covenant Hills
Depression and addiction are not as strong as your loved one. These co-occurring disorders do not have to rule their life forever. When they are ready to transform the trajectory of their life by quitting their addiction, we will be here to help them through their darkest hours.
At Covenant Hills, it is our mission to help your loved one get back to being the person you know is still inside them. Through our Christian-based co-occurring treatment programs, your loved one’s whole-body health is our top priority. We will guide them through the recovery process, help them awaken their soul and heal their mind and body.
Learn more about our Christian-based, dual diagnosis drug and alcohol addiction treatment, or contact us for a free and confidential assessment.
1 National Institute on Mental Health. Major Depression. Accessed October 21, 2018. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml.