Depression is a terrifying experience, one that can make someone feel like there is nothing left in this world. Usually it starts small and works itself up to something much bigger.
One moment someone can be happy and the next they can be feeling completely numb, emotionless. Some use a smile to hide what they are feeling. This is why it’s important for people to be able to notice the warning signs of depression.
Symptoms can range in severity depending on the individual. Not everyone is the same, so every depressed individual will experience the symptoms differently.
When symptoms start to worsen, this is where people start to self-harm and start moving towards suicidal tendencies. Their behavior can become irrational, impulsive, or withdrawn. At this point, their self-esteem is extremely low and life to them no longer means anything.
So how can we pull people back from that ledge? How can we make sure that no one has to get to that point?
Recognize the signs. Some can be quite noticeable. People with depression put a smile on their face and pretend to be happy, when they feel quite differently inside. But the truth of the matter is, they can’t always mask their symptoms.
Be attentive to how another person acts. Behavior is noticeable and it’s a great way to catch the warning signs that a person is heading in the wrong direction. Yes, it’s easier said than done. But it is possible to pick up on social cues.
How do you notice these symptoms? Well let’s talk about them.
There are two forms of sleep patterns: insomnia and hypersomnia. Insomnia occurs when a person doesn’t sleep enough. These people can’t sleep, wake up constantly throughout the night, and are up too early. They don’t feel rested and tend to become sleepy during daytime hours.
Hypersomnia, on the other hand, occurs when a person sleeps too much. They can fall asleep during daytime activities, such as work. They tend to take naps throughout the daytime, while also sleeping during the nighttime hours. People with hypersomnia always feel tired, despite all their hours of sleep.
In people with depression, you will commonly see a lack of motivation to do things. For example, college students who have depression will skip classes because they lack the motivation to go. Adults will call off work, because they have no motivation to go in.
Individuals with depression will commonly have little energy to perform tasks, even the smallest of tasks. They won’t always put in the effort that is required for certain tasks. For example, a mother asks her daughter, who has depression, to bring her laundry up from the basement. The daughter puts it off for as long as she can because she feels tired and has no energy to carry the basket or walk up the stairs.
One physical symptom that can become quite noticeable is appetite. Depression, in most cases, causes loss of appetite. Because of not eating properly or maintaining a healthy diet, individuals usually lose weight. Losing weight then leads to malnutrition. Malnutrition is a term that refers to people who are not getting the proper nutrients they need to live a healthy life.
Other physical symptoms include fatigue or body aches and pains. Fatigue is seen when a person becomes noticeably exhausted or tired. Aches and pains are another noticeable sign. People commonly report pain in their back, chest, and knees. However, the pain can be reported in other places as well, such as muscle aches.
Depression comes with incredible and unwanted baggage. The kind of baggage that leads to negative self-image and feelings of worthlessness. Negative self-esteem is all about not being good enough. It’s about not being worthy enough. It’s about being a failure.
Negative self-esteem drives people with depression into an empty, hollow life. A life with no happiness and no social support. It’s a life void of positive thoughts and success. These people believe that their life is not important. And to them, that’s okay, because no one will notice when they are gone.
How Can I Notice and How Can I Help?
Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s never too late to make an impact on someone’s life. It’s never too late to be their guardian angel, to step in and show them what they are worth. As humans, we strive to be noticed and cherished. People with depression, no matter how withdrawn they seem, need the love and support that everyone else receives.
When someone tells you ‘I’m tired because I haven’t been sleeping well’ or ‘My back has been hurting for a few days now and I don’t know why.’ Alarm bells should be sounding. Take a minute to stop and just ask ‘Are you okay?’ If you see a person zone out or you see they look more worn out than usual. Stop and ask ‘How is everything going?’
Small gestures such as a simple conversation can go a long way for people with depression. It shows that someone cares about how they feel or how they are doing.
Anyone else have any other ideas or ways that you could help people with depression? Maybe some of you have already helped someone with depression before. If you’d like to, comment your stories or share your thoughts in the comments below!