Depression affects 1 in 20 Australians every year and it does not discriminate. It affects men, women, adolescents and children. You may not realise that one of your friends is suffering from depression.
Identifying depression symptoms, including physical symptoms of depression, in your friend may help them to seek help and find an effective treatment option.
It is normal for everyone to feel sad or low, especially if they:
- Lose a loved one
- Get divorced
- Lose their job
- Undergo a big change such as becoming a new parent.
However, with depression the signs and symptoms are usually more severe and last longer.
Depression is a serious health problem that can change a person’s behaviour as well as their physical health and appearance, performance at work or school, interactions with others and even the ability to make minor decisions.
Have you noticed any of the following depression symptoms in your friend?
- They don’t go out as much anymore. This may be because they aren’t interested in going out, they are afraid they will be rejected by others or your friend may worry they will bring down the mood of the group.
- They are having difficulty getting tasks done at work or school. Cognitive impairment is common in people with depression and affects the person’s concentration, memory and ability to make decisions.
- They have lost interest in activities they used to get pleasure from. It is possible that people with depression lose interest in those closest to them such as their partner or their children.
- They may excessively drink alcohol or use drugs. People with depression may rely on alcohol or drugs to help them in social situations, to numb their pain or to seek feelings of happiness.
- They have trouble sleeping or sleep a lot. Disruption to normal sleep patterns is common in people with depression and a change in sleep pattern is a sign to look out for. Some people with depression may sleep a lot and have trouble getting out of bed, while others will only manage a few hours of sleep.
- They speak negatively about themselves. Listen out for things like ‘I’m a failure’, ‘It’s my fault’, ‘Nothing good ever happens to me’, ‘I’m worthless’, ‘Life’s not worth living’ and ‘People would be better off without me’.
- They may have tried to harm themselves.
- They often feel overwhelmed, or may be irritable, miserable or sad. Sometimes their mood will change very quickly and things that they may once have laughed at may cause them to be sad or angry.
- They may complain of headaches or of feeling run down or tired all the time. Physical symptoms of depression include feeling lethargic and lacking energy for even the most basic of tasks.
- You may notice that they have gained or lost a lot of weight. Drastic changes in appetite can be a depression symptom.
What do I do now?
If more than one of the depression symptoms listed above last longer than two weeks, consider encouraging your friend to seek help.
Beyond Blue and Lifeline have mental health professionals available to talk with your friend 24 hours a day. Call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. And always encourage a consultation with a GP so they can discuss depression symptoms.
- Australian depression treatment guidelines
- TMS a drug-free depression treatment
- How antidepressants work