Depression is a major illness characterised by a persistent low mood, lack of enjoyment and lack of energy and motivation.
There can even be physical symptoms such as fatigue, vague pains, headaches, weight loss or gain, and sleep disturbance.
At it's worst, the sense of hopelessness that depression causes can lead to a lack of desire to live and result in suicide.
How do I know if I am/a loved one is depressed?
There are some common signs of depression. Keep in mind that when comparing these signs, do NOT compare a person with someone else who is considered "normal".
Always compare them to a person's past behaviour, and what changes you notice now.
1. Persistent Low mood, sadness, feeling hopeless, helpless or worthless
2. Lack of pleasure from activities that you normally enjoy.
3. Getting fatigued easily, Lack of energy, lethargy
4. Pessimistic thoughts, Negative view of the future/world/self, Guilt
5. No hopes for the future, death wishes, suicidal thoughts, self-harm
6. Lack of self confidence
7. Sleep disturbance, increased or decreased sleep, waking up too early in the morning
8. Loss of appetite and weight loss, Increased appetite and weight gain
9. Loss of sexual interest and sexual activity
How do I know if what i am feeling is depression or just sadness and that it will pass??
Many stressful or difficult life events and transitions can lead to a short lasting episode of feeling low. This is a normal human reaction, and in most people, with social support, coping skills and the mere passing of time, the negative feelings reduce.
However, if the symptoms persist for too long, and are causing difficulties living life normally, such as affecting your close relationships and social life, your work and your body, then it is likely that you might need professional help.
It is always sensible to consult an expert who can evaluate, analyse and explain what you are going through.
Never hesitate to seek help.
Living with a Depressed loved one :
It can be heartbreaking and mentally exhausting to watch someone you love suffer, and feel like nothing you do to help them matters.
But do understand, the depressed brain is not able to feel normal joy and happiness the way others do. And due to their negative thoughts, they may even feel like they are being a burden, or that their friends and family will be better off without them.
Always try to convince your loved one to seek professional help, because in many cases just the support offered by a close friend may not be enough.
Simple acts to support a loved one
- Listen. Listen. Listen.
- Refrain from judgement, Don't blame them for their illness
- Let them know you're there for them
- Try not to offer generic advice like "just go out it'll get better" "snap out of it"
- Validate their feelings
- Offer help with daily chores, mundane activities
- Gently encourage them to seek professional help