According to the World Health Organization, nearly 300 million people across the globe have depression. Left untreated, depression can increase your risk of dying by suicide, put you at increased risk for developing cardiovascular diseases, and negatively impact your social and physical health.
However, depression isn’t typically a condition that develops overnight, so keeping an eye out for the tell-tale signs of depression may allow you or someone you love to get help before the condition worsens. Here are the signs to look for in yourself and those around you.
Loss of Interest & Motivation
One of the most obvious signs that somebody is struggling with depression is a loss of interest in things they once loved, sometimes called anhedonia. This decreased interest is often unexplained and confusing to those around the person. For example, when a person whose world once revolved around playing basketball suddenly stops showing up for pick-up games and sells their favorite jerseys and ball.
Difficulties with Thinking & Memory
When depression starts becoming severe, you’ll notice a difference in the thinking patterns of your friend or loved one. The person who once so eloquently expressed themselves and aced every test in school now struggles to get a single thought across. Their thoughts appear disorganized or as if they’re in a mental fog. They may begin to speak slowly and it seems to take them longer to process concepts or retrieve memories.
Unexplained Mood Changes
One of the biggest misconceptions of depression is that all depressed people will be plagued by sadness. While it’s definitely true that your friend may appear down and unmotivated, mood changes might manifest them in other ways as well. Your normally level-headed friend may lose their cool over a minor inconvenience or event. Or a friend that’s typically upbeat and positive might shift their focus toward the negative.
Reduced Performance at Work & School
A lot of people you know might be struggling with depression without you even knowing it. Yet, declining performance in school or work is often a clear sign that somebody you care about is struggling. For example, depression may be the cause when a normally incredible student begins skipping class, forgetting to complete homework, or failing assignments. If somebody who truly cared about success suddenly doesn’t anymore, they might have depression.
Appetite & Weight Changes
Eating is what keeps us alive and fuels our bodies to get through the day. Any unusual changes in eating and weight may be a sign that your loved one is struggling. This can show itself in several ways, including weight gain, weight loss, excessive eating, or not eating at all. Oftentimes, eating in excess is a coping strategy for depression.
Suicidal Thoughts & Ideation
The most concerning sign that a loved one is struggling with depression is the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and ideation. When you notice these signs, time is of the essence if you want to save your friend’s life.
Here are some signs somebody is feeling suicidal, according to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE).
- Selling or giving away prized possessions
- Talking about death or wanting to die
- Excessive sleeping
- Feeling as if life is pointless
- Expressing that they feel as if they’re a “burden” and won’t be a problem much longer
- Sudden personality and mood changes
If you or somebody you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call emergency services.
Depression is definitely more of a concern now than it has ever been before. If you or somebody you know is struggling with the signs and symptoms above, then treatment may be needed for clinical depression. Make an appointment with a therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.