How can I spot the signs of depression?


Would you know what to look for if you had to spot any signs of depression? Not all people suffering from depression will even know themselves that they are being affected by it. Depression is a deeply complex and varied condition and can manifest itself in many ways.


Generally, though, when you feel depressed, you feel low, sad, hopeless and have an apathy to the very things you once enjoyed.


These feelings can come on slowly or hit you overnight, and they can persist for weeks, and even months. The longer they remain, the more likely they are to interfere with your relationships, social life, work life and family life. It can often feel all encompassing and overwhelming. Sufferers may often be reluctant to share their feelings with others.


However, there are some things to look for if you suspect a friend, workmate or family member is suffering from depression.


There are the social symptoms, the psychological symptoms and the physical symptoms.


The social symptoms include:


  • Underperforming in work
  • Going under the radar – reduced social contact with friends, change in social behaviour
  • Problems at home – arguing with partner, deteriorating relationships with family
  • Loss of interest in hobbies


The psychological symptoms include:

  • Continuous low mood or sadness
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling close to tears
  • Feeling guilt-ridden
  • Feeling anxious or worried
  • Feeling indecisive
  • Not feeling motivation or interest
  • Not feeling enjoyment from anything
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thinking about self-harm


The physical symptoms are:

  • Changes in appetite – either over-eating or loss of appetite.
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of libido
  • Moving and speaking slower than usual
  • Sleep problems – either sleeping too much, or too little, or not sleeping properly
  • Aches and pains


There are three categories of depression that doctors use to grade how serious it is. Depression can come on slowly, so people can ‘drift’ into it, and really have no idea at how bad they’re feeling.


  • Mild depression has some impact on your daily life
  • Moderate depression has a significant impact on your daily life
  • Severe depression makes it almost impossible to get through daily life – a few people with severe depression may have psychotic symptoms.


Grief and depression


When a person loses someone, is bereaved, they can often display the same characteristics as depression. However, there are some key differences.


While depression is an illness, grief is natural response to loss. While bereaved people can often feel moments of ‘normality’ where they can feel joy at something and look forward to the future, with a depressed individual, there are no flashes of joy, and can find it very difficult to see anything positive in the present or the future.


Other forms of depression


There are different types of depression, which may be part of other things or linked by definite events. Postnatal depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder are all branches of depression or conditions where depression is a symptom.


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