What is Depression? how do I know if someone is depressed?

I can’t advise on the medical nature of Depression I can only share my own experience and observations.

Often, I think it’s the loved ones and friends who notice the changes in someone suffering from Mental Illness first. My personal experience is around Depression.

I have a few people in my life who have Depression and one thing was consistent in all of them, they became withdrawn and went into themselves. They wouldn’t engage with me or life in the same way as they had before.

If I made suggestions of things to do or tried to have a conversation, there would be limited response and enthusiasm.

It’s very hard to watch someone you love slip away from you. This is what it feels like when you are watching their illness take hold. The trouble is that you may also be the one who is on the receiving end of their emotional output.

What I mean by that is that it could be you who is being snapped at, ignored or forgotten, as depression can often cause irritability. If this is as a result of the illness, it isn’t meant and isn’t personal.

I noticed my husband loose interest in food, he would eat badly and has put on weight. I’ve tried to encourage him to eat well as a bad diet only makes someone feel worse. Putting on weight then affects how someone feels about themselves and that in turn adds to the depression.

In others I have seen the same be true for Alcohol. As someone becomes depressed, they can start to drink more and perhaps participate in recreational drugs. Sadly, these are also addictive so loved ones are faced with Mental Illness and dependency issues.

The biggest thing I noticed in my husband was his inability to see the positive in anything. He always saw the negative. This was heart breaking as our son was growing fast and Richard was missing it. He would get to the end of a day and focus on what he hadn’t achieved as a result of the turmoil we now lived in; he really couldn’t see the positive things. I would ask him about some of them and he would have missed them all together.

Some key signs of depression are:

  1. Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
  2. Difficulties Sleeping
  3. Changes in diet and eating habits
  4. Increase in the consumption of Alcohol (perhaps recreational drugs)
  5. Irritability, lack of patience and sometimes anger
  6. Expressing the negative and difficulty seeing the positive
  7. Loss of confidence in themselves
  8. Suicidal thoughts

If you think someone close to you is suffering from Depression, talk to them and encourage them to seek help. Please know though that this might take time, the path to seeking help is a long one for some people. In the meantime, listen to them, support them and gently encourage them to get help; above all try to remember it isn’t you.

I would like to dedicate this article to my first love, Alex.

We dated in our late teens and early 20’s and I remember him full of life, energy and tenacity. It’s Alex’s fault that I am utterly addicted to The Marvel and DC films!

We split up and lost touch.

I received a call from a mutual friend to let me know that Alex had sadly died. He had been suffering from Mental Illness.

I and many of his past friends, found ourselves asking “what if?”, “What if we had stayed in touch, would we have made a difference?”.

I don’t know the answer to that.

What I do know is that our world is the poorer for his loss and that he is now at peace. I equally wish his family peace.

It’s with this article that I dedicate my hope that his passing highlights the importance of treating Mental Illness early and isn’t without meaning.

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