Excerpt #5 of Lynn Crilly's 'Hope with Depression' - Recognising depression in a loved one
Posted by SANE
24th Jan 2020

Recognising depression in a loved one – part 1

There are certain patterns and tendencies that may help you to determine that something could potentially be amiss. In my personal and professional experience, a dramatic change in personality and behaviour can be one of the biggest warning signs. Whether your loved one is usually eccentric and quirky or insular and private, you may know them well enough to be able to recognise the differences over and above their usual mannerisms. Pete, who suffers from major depressive disorder, says of how his mother was the first person to recognise that something wasn’t quite right with him:

My earliest recollection of symptoms is what I subsequently learned was anxiety. It started to happen in my first few weeks at uni. I couldn’t sit still in lectures and used to feel my heart racing for no reason at all. I also started to dread going to lectures and social occasions. My depression emerged in a way that I recognise one summer vacation when I just seemed to grind to a halt. I couldn’t seem to do anything but lie on my bed or the sofa. I normally had loads of energy but had become very lethargic. My mum noticed this before I did really. I knew something wasn’t right and went to the doctor. I was given some sleeping tablets but it took another seven or eight years to reach a proper diagnosis, by which time I was having regular suicidal thoughts and was very anxious and depressed.

To give you more of an idea, below are some of the emotional and behavioural changes that may be present in someone with depression. The person may:

  • feel worthless and helpless
  • seem anxious or worried a large proportion of the time
  • seem to be getting little enjoyment out of life or things they used to like doing
  • appear to have very low self-esteem, to be overly self-critical and to feel weighed down by guilt and self-doubt
  • become very distant, preoccupied and uncommunicative
  • seem irritable and intolerant of others
  • stop wanting to go out, even to places they used to enjoy visiting
  • have suicidal thoughts or appear to be harming themselves, whether through a method such as physical self-harm or substance abuse.
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