Is someone you love suffering with depression? 10 things to look out for.

Life is full of stresses and hardships and it is perfectly normal and ok to feel sad, angry or nervous about things once in a while. Sometimes we feel negative emotions like these for no reason at all. But being depressed is different. There can be no abating of these feelings, no relief from severe negative emotions. If you or someone you know is experiencing these feelings for more than 2 weeks at a time and it is affecting daily living then it is possible that it might be a case of clinical depression and not just a “hard time” or a “bad mood”.psychiatry

If you are concerned about someone that you think might be suffering from depression then there are 10 areas of life that are usually affected that you can ask about or be on the look out for:

  1. Sleep; they might have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, awaking in the night and being unable to get back to sleep. They might be sleeping far too much.
  2. Energy; they might feel lethargic and weak.
  3. Mood; could be described as flat, irritable, frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, disinterested. It might change dramatically without good reason.
  4. Motivation; they might have a loss of interest in things that once they were passionate about or enjoyed. Find it hard to get excited about anything.
  5. Concentration; they may be distracted easily, unable to read. Have to re-read things over.
  6. Memory; might be poor, unable to remember events or placement of things. This can be very distressing.
  7. Self-esteem; they will probably be a harsh self-critic with a low opinion of themselves.
  8. Socialisation; they will be unlikely to want to go out, wanting to stay in and withdrawing from others.
  9. Appetite; might change, either a loss of appetite or eating a lot more than usual. Weight changes might be evident too.
  10. Libido; they might have a diminishing sex-drive.

To make things worse, these symptoms breed more stress for the person and it is not uncommon then to see patterns of chronic pain and illness as the body’s natural systems are under too much pressure to respond effectively. The neurotransmitters needed to deal with stress, relaxation, sleep and mood are no longer firing effectively and the illness feeds itself.

Quite often people will turn to drugs and/or alcohol because they get temporary relief from all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that by now seem totally out of control. Unfortunately this just makes things worse as the after effects magnify all the original problems and the body is even more depleted of its coping mechanisms. Because drugs and alcohol do provide temporary relief, the person is likely to take more and so a vicious cycle of addiction can begin.

So before you judge someone for drinking too much or taking illicit substances, consider that it might be the only answer they have found to their problems. Before you tell your child, parent or friend to “cheer up” or “pull yourself together”, consider that they might not have the physiological reserves to do so. These people need compassion and care and help.

If this is you or someone you know then take the first step and contact someone on these lists. Help is available and you are not alone:

Help lines and websites in Australia

Help lines and websites in UK

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