Feelings of sadness and loss are normal and typically pass with time. For some people, these feelings last longer than a few days or weeks, which can seriously interfere with life. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, or NHMI, 14.8 million adults in the United States are affected by major depressive disorder, a recognized mental illness. The first step in helping a friend or family with depression is recognizing the signs of the disease.
A person who is depressed may take on an entirely different personality. The Mayo Clinic lists a common sign of depression as irritability and frustration even over the smallest things. A depressed person may lash out at those around them, be very critical or cry for no apparent reason. They may retreat from friends, family and social situations. Those close to them may notice that they no longer look forward to or participate in activities they once enjoyed.
Depression can manifest itself in physical ways. Someone who is depressed may eat very little or binge on food as a way of finding comfort. They either lose or gain weight, sometimes dramatically and in a short amount of time. The nonprofit group HelpGuide.org also finds that people who are depressed complain of other physical ailments, such as stomachaches, backaches or headaches. These aches and pains typically have no known cause associated with them.
- Noticeable Lack of Energy
Everyday activities can seem like too much for a depressed person. They may appear completely out of it or dazed. Their speech, reaction time and movements may generally seem as though they are slower than usual. They also may look tired or complain of being fatigued and having no energy. According to the Cleveland Clinic, both a lack of sleep or an excessive amount of sleep are symptoms of depression.
Trouble at Work or School
A depressed person can have trouble concentrating, thinking and making decisions. Activities that require attention may be ignored. At work or at school, this can lead to serious problems with performance or grades. While depression can cause someone to be easily distracted, it also can lead them to become agitated and restless. A classroom or office can feel constricting and the need to leave or check out may increase.
Sad or Suicidal Speech
One of the most blatant signs of depression is hearing the person talk of suicide or thoughts of death and dying. In such a case, it is imminent that a friend or family member find help for them. They also may talk about feeling worthless or that life is hopeless for them. Their outlook is bleak and filled with negativity. They may bring up past events and talk about the guilt they feel over them.