Despite the growing public awareness of many kinds of mental illness, depression is still somewhat misunderstood. It’s not as simple as feeling sad; sadness is a normal human reaction to life that dissipates after a while. Depression is more acute than a few hours or days of sadness. It’s a serious mood disorder that causes severe, debilitating symptoms.
Depression is one of the most common and pervasive mood disorders, affecting millions of people every year. 7.8 percent of adults in the United States, or 19.4 million people, experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2019. 5 percent of these people had an episode that interfered with their ability to function effectively.
Are you concerned your loved one is struggling? This year has been especially difficult, and rates of depression appear to be on the rise. It’s good to look out for those you care about and know how to recognize the signs of depression in a loved one. If you’re worried your friend or family member may be dealing with depression, look for some of the following signs.
1. Persistent low mood
Depression causes a persistent and sometimes inescapable low mood. This is one of the most common signs of depression to look for in your loved ones. It is deeper than only sadness; their low moods are defined by feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and emptiness. These feelings are all-consuming, and it often seems like there is no end in sight when deep in a depressive episode.
2. Tiredness or lack of energy
People with depression often feel tired, drained, or an overall lack of energy. No matter how much sleep they get, their exhaustion is usually still present. It sometimes manifests in fatigue which makes it difficult to find the motivation to do much. This could keep your loved one from wanting to get out of bed or leave the house for days at a time.
3. Excessive feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Depression is characterized by incredible but irrational feelings of guilt, self-loathing, or worthlessness. Their illness tells them they are lazy, unmotivated, and not worth the time. It may try to convince them that no one cares about them and their loved ones are lying to them. This is one of the more painful signs of depression to recognize in a loved one. It can be difficult to convince them these things aren’t true.
4. Loss of interest in or enjoyment of activities they once enjoyed
People with depression lose interest or enjoyment in many hobbies and activities they once loved. Their low mood and lack of energy make it difficult to find excitement in the pastimes they used to like. These include activities like exercising, playing an instrument, or gathering with friends to socialize. If your loved one withdraws from activities in which they used to participate, this may be a sign they are suffering from depression.
5. Difficulties focusing or concentrating
Depression makes it challenging to focus or concentrate on even the smallest tasks. It’s hard to pay attention for any length of time when overcome by a sense of hopelessness or helplessness. These difficulties affect most areas of the person’s life, from their education to their employment to their home life. They can lead to troubles in school or at work, causing individuals to fall behind on assignments or tasks.
6. Feelings of frustration, irritability, or anger
Frustration, irritability, or anger are common signs of depression for some individuals. Depression is a debilitating condition to manage and live with. Many people feel exhausted from dealing with their symptoms, which causes a short temper and sudden rage. Some may feel misunderstood or believe they can’t talk about what’s going on which only makes their frustration worse.
7. Aches, pains, cramps, headaches, or digestive problems with no clear cause
Although depression is a psychological disorder, it can cause many psychosomatic symptoms. A loved one showing signs of depression may experience many kinds of aches or pains. They might have headaches, cramps, or even digestive problems. If these physical symptoms have no clear cause or explanation, they may be caused by a depressive disorder.
8. Changes in appetite or weight
The psychosomatic digestive problems caused by depression often result in changes in appetite. Your loved one might feel more or less hungry than normal. Some restrict their food intake while others eat more than they usually would. These changes in appetite cause fluctuations in weight as a result. Sudden weight loss or weight gain is another sign of depression to look for.
9. Trouble sleeping
Depression leads to a few different sleeping difficulties. Some people sleep too much, while others experience interruptions in their sleep throughout the night, and some can’t sleep at all. People with depression often experience all three kinds of sleeping difficulties at different times. Irregular sleep patterns are one of the most common signs of depression. Poor sleep tends to worsen other symptoms and the ongoing exhaustion affects many areas of the person’s life.
10. Thoughts of suicide
Suicidal ideation is most often associated with depression. It is one of the most serious signs of depression to look out for. It’s difficult to determine how serious your loved one may be about carrying out plans. Suicidal ideation includes both thoughts of committing suicide and actual attempts. If you have any concern a loved one may be struggling with suicidal ideation, you should seek help immediately.
Finding Help For a Loved One With Depression
Depression is a debilitating condition, but there is hope for recovery. There are a few different kinds of treatments available to treat individuals with depression. Sometimes depression can be treated through consistent weekly therapy or counseling with a qualified therapist. Severe cases of depression require a more intensive approach to treatment such as:
Each type of treatment offers unique benefits depending on your loved one’s needs. People who have dealt with long-term depression may find a residential treatment program will be the most helpful. Outpatient programs are great for those who don’t have the availability to commit to a full-time treatment program.
Oftentimes people with depression turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate their symptoms. If your loved one shows signs of depression and an alcohol or drug addiction, they have a co-occurring disorder.
Co-occurring disorders, or dual diagnosis, refers to the simultaneous presence of both mental illness and substance or alcohol use disorder. Someone with a co-occurring disorder will benefit from attending a dual diagnosis treatment program. These specialized programs treat both their mental illness and their substance use disorder at the same time.
Treating Depression at Clearview
Have you determined your loved one is showing signs of depression? Are you ready to connect them with the help they need? Clearview Treatment Programs is the premier option for depression treatment. We build an individualized treatment plan for your loved one so we can provide a comprehensive level of care.
We’re here to walk your loved one through and out from even the darkest days of their depression. Clearview’s knowledgeable, caring staff of treatment experts ensure your loved one receives the best care possible. Please reach out today with any questions you may have. Our admissions counselors are ready and waiting to hear how we can help!