Depression is the most common mental illness in the United States, especially among young adults and college students. Chances are, you or someone you know is suffering from depression. Many people suffer in silence, not wanting to burden others with what they are facing on a daily basis. If you have noticed these signs in your friends or loved ones, it may be time to reach out and let them know that you are there for them.
1. Loss of interest.
People suffering from depression often lack the enthusiasm for things they used to enjoy. They might stay in more than they used to, or stop participating in clubs and other activities. This might lead to skipping class or calling into work on a more frequent basis.
If you have noticed your friend withdrawing from the activities that used to bring them happiness, or bailing on responsibilities, this might be a sign of something more going on. Reach out to them and try to make plans that don't involve a lot of planning or effort. Something as simple as staying in and watching a movie could help them more than you think.
2. Change in sleep patterns.
A change in sleep habits is a major warning sign of depression. The lack of energy that often accompanies this mental illness can lead to excessive sleeping and increased the frequency of naps throughout the day.
On the other hand, people suffering from depression might also experience insomnia. If your friend appears to be sleeping too much or not enough, it might be due to something out of their control.
3. Substance abuse.
This sign of depression can be harder to detect, especially in college students. If you have noticed an increase in drinking or smoking in your friend, especially outside of social situations, this might be something to keep an eye on.
People with depression might drink by themselves more often, or use substances as a way to escape the way they are feeling. Many college students have probably done this on occasion to destress after a bad week, but it might be a sign of depression if it starts to become a habit.
4. Changes in mood.
As you have probably heard before, depression is associated with feelings of sadness and helplessness. Other changes in mood, such as sudden aggression or irritability can also be brought on by depression.
Someone suffering from depression might appear more hostile and argumentative than they used to, especially in situations where you might not see that behavior as 'justified'. It is important to know that depression can affect your mood in a multitude of ways, it is not only feeling sad.
5. Withdrawing from friends and family.
People suffering from depression often become much more introverted than before. They will cancel plans, stop reaching out to their friends and family, and become less active on social media.
Reach out to your friends and check on them, especially if you haven't heard from them in a while. Send them a text, call them, or try to make plans. Even if they end up canceling plans, the gesture means more than you might realize.
People with depression are often very good at hiding it, even from those closest to them. If you have noticed these warning signs in your friends or family, reach out to them and let them know you are there for them. If you have noticed these signs in yourself, don't be afraid to ask for help whether it is professionally or within your friend group.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is available 24 hours a day, every day.