8 Observable Signs of Depression – Seeing when they are not saying
Life has changed drastically for all of us since the virus outbreak. Just like the scientists, healthcare providers, and all think tanks who are ceaselessly working with ideas and solutions to concoct a vaccine, whilst battling uncertainty and failure – it is almost the same for ordinary beings. We too are battling the uncertainty and finding it difficult to come in terms with such an unprecedented event.
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Pandemic’s Effect on Mental Health
So far we only know of precautionary and prevention measures to keep the virus at bay like physical distancing, quarantine, isolation, etc., and we are adapting to the sedentary lifestyle for now. Unfortunately, the newfound lifestyle along with the prevailing virus threat is increasing our mental health risks. The stressful situation has accelerated the risks of anxiety disorders and depression necessitating immediate attention and action.
In addition, at present when we have to maintain physical distancing and restrict our movements, some mental health problems might go unnoticed and undetected, especially the symptoms of depression.
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Core Symptoms of Depression
First, let us take a closer look at the core symptoms of depression. There are two core symptoms of depression and an additional third symptom in adolescents.
- Depressed mood or sadness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in all or almost all activities
- Irritable mood in adolescents
For the diagnosis of depression, one of the above core symptoms must be present consistently for a period of at least two weeks.
8 Observable Behavioral Changes
Apart from the core symptoms, let us now be aware of the overt behavioral changes that people with depression may display. Because of the pandemic we are in, these additional symptoms may not be as apparent and so it is even more important to refine our understanding and become watchful.
The following behaviors may look obvious because of the recommended physical distancing and isolation. That is why it is even more important to watch our loved ones closely and help in their fight against depression.
- Diminished social interaction: Since most social interactions are happening online, the face-to-face conversations may take a back seat. So let us be observant. Are our loved ones involved in online social interactions? Or have they completely withdrawn themselves from all interactions?
- Loss of appetite or overeating: The eating behavior can say a lot about a person’s state of mind. Whether your loved one is eating too little or too much, must be a concern. Their change in eating habits in either extreme can be an indicator to underlying mental health issues.
- Sleeping too much or too little: With so much time in hand, we may be killing time by sleeping even in the day. However, if sleeping has become habitual and if someone prefers sleep to any other activities, it should raise some concern. While sleeping too much is concerning, so is sleeping too little. Watch out for the sleeping patterns of your loved ones.
- Restlessness or slowed speech/movement: Feeling restless and bored is normal since our lifestyle has been disrupted. However, if a person is restless throughout the day, it may not just be a sign of boredom. Also, if someone is displaying the opposite i.e. slowed speech / movement, that too could be a matter of concern.
- Lethargy or fatigue: If a person shows signs of exhaustion or fatigue even without getting involved in strenuous activities, their fatigue may be real and could be because of depression. Lest we mistake this behavior for laziness or sloppiness, we must be aware that lethargy and fatigue could also be symptoms of depression.
- Indecisiveness or difficulty in concentration: Are they losing focus in their tasks at the slightest hint of distraction? Are they taking longer to make simpler everyday decisions? This may not just be due to confusion or complacency but could be indicative of underlying symptoms of depression.
- Low self-esteem: They may refrain from engaging in conversations and hesitate giving any opinions even when asked. They may have their shoulders slouched and also avoid eye contact. They could be in a vicious cycle of low self-esteem and blaming themselves for bringing it on themselves followed by guilt, which again helps lower their self-esteem.
- Tearfulness: Some people may tear up and start crying. However when you ask why they are crying, they may not be able to give us reasons. They may try to hide the tears out of shame and guilt, but we must understand that they may not be crying because they are hurt but that they could be showing signs of undiagnosed depression.
There are other covert symptoms of depression-like feelings of hopelessness and recurrent thoughts of suicide, which are not visible. Here, we have discussed only the visible or observable behavior that a person experiencing depression may display.
Along with the core symptoms, if a person shows 4-5 of the signs above consistently over a period of two weeks, they could have depression. Therefore, we must watch the behaviors of our loved ones to ensure timely help and intervention. Depression could have fatal consequences without intervention, so it is up to us to become aware and observant of the signs and behavioral changes.
Just asking them how they are feeling is no longer enough because they may not even know what they are feeling and why they are feeling that way. We must not just listen to the spoken words of our loved ones going through depression, but we must also listen to their behaviors – what they are saying through their actions.
Let us watch closely and see what our loved ones cannot say and work closely to defeat depression together.