Everyone can feel a bit 'down' from time to time. In many people, this unhappiness is a reaction to an upsetting event, and they will start to feel better after a few days or weeks. It is a natural, short-lived response to stressful times in life.
However, some people are unable to escape this low mood, and find it difficult to carry on with life as usual. They may experience long-lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness, have unexplained aches and pains, suffer from poor sleep, anxiety, and/or lack interest and energy.
Depression affects different people in different ways – not everyone has the same symptoms.
If you are concerned that your friend may have depression, then look out for the following:
- Low/sad, irritable or indifferent mood
- Loss of interest and enjoyment in daily life
- Lack of energy
- Fatigue and reduced activity
- Disturbed sleep or excessive sleep
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Loss of sex drive
- Unexplained aches and pains e.g. headache, backache
- Changes to the menstrual cycle
- Poor concentration or reduced attention
- Difficulty in making decisions
- Restlessness, agitation or anxiety
- Low self-confidence and self-esteem
- Feelings of guilt
- Inability to cope with life as before
- Avoiding other people
- Bleak view of the future
- Morbid thoughts, ideas of self-harm
You can reassure your friend that it is important to seek professional help if these symptoms have been present for more than two weeks or if they have thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Depression is a condition that is treatable, especially if dealt with in the right way from the start.