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How to Recognize Depression in Yourself or a Loved One

In today’s unpredictable world it is more important than ever to regularly check in with our loved ones and ourselves, about our mental health. Social distancing has come with a hefty price for most of us: isolation. For those suffering from depression, this time can be especially difficult. However, even for people who have not struggled with depression in the past, these times can still be trying. 
There is a difference between clinical depression and feeling sad because of a particular situation. Generally speaking, individuals with a diagnosis of depression have been struggling for much of their lives and their depression may not be due to a current life situation. Depression can manifest differently from person to person. Additionally, depression is a common symptom of many other diagnoses and conditions. It is helpful to obtain a proper diagnosis from a trained mental healthcare professional to determine the best treatment approach.

Signs of Depression

There are many criteria for determining if someone is experiencing clinical depression. Be aware of the following signs if you suspect that you or a loved one is depressed.

Prolonged Feelings of Hopelessness and Helplessness

A bleak outlook is one of the most common symptoms of depression. If you have noticed that you or a loved one has become unusually pessimistic and cannot see the point of living or trying to improve life, this may indicate that you need to talk to a mental healthcare professional.

Anger or Irritability

Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent for no discernible reason can be a symptom of depression, especially in men. If you have noticed that your temper is shorter than usual and everything and everyone seem to upset you, this may be a sign that you are suffering from depression.

Loss of Interest in Hobbies and Passions

Depression can take the pleasure and joy out of activities you love and leave you feeling empty. A decreased sex drive, avoiding social activities, and lack of motivation for work or school can all be signs of depression.

Sleep Changes

Insomnia and irregular sleeping patterns can be associated with depression. This can contribute to the overall lack of energy and feelings of fatigue that are associated with depression. Also, inadequate rest can increase feelings of anxiety and irritability, further contributing to feelings of depression.

Concentration problems

Difficulty focusing, trouble making decisions, and problems with memory can all be signs of depression. Depression can affect all significant cognitive functioning and has been shown to cause short-term memory loss in some cases.

Appetite or Weight Changes

Loss of appetite can be expected during depression. However—and conversely—depression can result in overeating for comfort, resulting in binge eating. A change of more than 5% of body weight in a month could be a warning sign that you are experiencing depression-related weight problems.

Reckless Behavior

Escapist behaviors including substance abuse, compulsive gambling, engaging in unsafe sex, and binge-drinking can stem from depression in cases where self-destructive tendencies are an issue.

Getting Help

Depression can feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel and no point in trying to get better. Dealing with depression on your own is incredibly overwhelming for most people.  Getting professional help is essential to determining the severity and impact of your depression, and whether medication might be helpful. Engaging in therapy might also prove effective in treating depression, with or without medication. Additionally, there are many things you can do to help yourself feel better.


Diet and exercise can play an essential role in managing depression. Studies suggest regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressants at managing symptoms of depression in some cases. Having an active daily routine can be challenging with depression, however, something as simple as taking a walk can help. Start with small achievable activities and increase your activity level when you feel ready. 


Reaching out to friends and loved ones helps fight feelings of isolation. Merely talking to someone face-to-face about how you feel is enormously beneficial in itself. The person you speak to does not have to solve your problems; just feeling heard by a loved one can help you work through your feelings and calm your nervous system. Remember you are not alone and should not be afraid to ask for help.

Life Adjustment Team

If you or someone you love is diagnosed with depression, they may need professional assistance with learning how to manage their symptoms and re-engage in their community. Life Adjustment Team offers group therapy, an intensive outpatient program, and mental health case management. If you would like to learn more about Life Adjustment Team, please contact us!