Spotting the early signs of depression in a loved one is not that easy. Is your partner more quiet than usual because they are absorbed by something or because they are feeling increasingly isolated? Is that outburst of anger something to be worried about? As with many other mental health issues, small things can add up to something big but how do you really know whether it’s a problem or not?
Helping someone as early as possible can make a significant difference, so here are a few tell-tale signs that someone is suffering from the early stages of depression.
1. Losing Interest
A person loses interest in certain things that they once found a pleasure in doing and perhaps gravitate towards easier things like sitting watching TV. This can be an early sign of depression because they are doing things that require less effort and don’t have the energy, for example, for going out walking with you like they used to or popping out to the cinema. There can be a loss of interest in certain aspects of a relationship such as having sex or alternatively, in some cases, an increase in sexual promiscuity. At work there could be a drop in standards, missing deadlines and not engaging with the jobs they are given.
2. Changes to Eating Patterns
The onset of depression can cause changes to the way we eat. A person may comfort eat and start putting on weight or they may not be interested in food as much and skip meals. They may get fixated on one particular kind of food which can often be dismissed as a fad or phase.
3. Trouble Sleeping
Many people have trouble sleeping, especially if they are busy at work and the pressure is on. Having trouble getting off to sleep or waking up during the early hours can also be a sign that someone is suffering from depression.
4. Mood Changes
It’s not just about feeling low. A person suffering from early depression may have periods when they are easily irritated or get angry. They could snap at you and get frustrated over the simplest of things.
5. Losing Confidence and Negativity
Another tell-tale sign is when a person begins to lose confidence in themselves and their abilities. That can include not being able to tackle certain situations they once found easy or avoiding certain situations that cause anxiety. This can also lead to a negative outlook where things don’t matter or aren’t likely to succeed.
6. Increasing Drinking
Someone with the beginnings of depression may well find ways to take the edge of things by drinking more alcohol or smoking a few extra cigarettes. Drinking can often mask the signs of depression for a while, bringing the person back to their old self but this is only a temporary solution and can lead to alcohol abuse that also needs to be treated.
Spotting the early sings of depression is not always easy but intervening with a loved one as early as possible can help bring the condition under control and allow them to seek treatment. While broaching the subject can be difficult, and you may need to show a great deal of patience and calm, making this intervention can start the process of dealing with the depression and moving forward to a healthier and more enjoyable future.