Reading someone else’s emotions or deciphering their decision making abilities can be challenging because people tend to keep their true feelings hidden most of the time. There are a few ways in which you can detect whether or not a loved one is depressed, along with ways you can help during their time of need.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
If you suspect depression, have a talk with them. Find out how they felt about their day or if they need to get something off their shoulders. Be genuine in your questioning because they will detect a false attempt at caring. This genuineness helps them open up and be more willing to answer honestly. Remember not to judge, as this will cause them to retreat.
Pay attention to body language.
Have you ever noticed how much you can tell about how someone is feeling just by their actions? It’s the same with people who suffer from depression. Depressed individuals don’t smile as much as others, and if they do smile it’s usually forced. Their body posture is poor, they tend to avoid eye contact and they are sometimes longer concerned with their hygiene or appearance. So if you have a friend or family member that usually goes all out when it comes to appearance and then suddenly they don’t seem to care, red flags should be going up in your head.
Find the time to listen.
When depressed individuals speak they share thoughts about helplessness, hopelessness and emptiness. If suicide is mentioned in conversation don’t brush it off, take this very seriously. Many times they themselves are not aware that they are in a state of depression. Point out the signs to them and offer to help them in any way that you can.
Show your support.
Showing your support to someone who is depressed plays a big role in the healing process. At times they may not want you around but always let them know that you are there any time they need you. If they need a lift to their therapist, or just a listening ear, being there is the best thing that you can do for them.
Clinical Psychologist Annabelle Young has extensive experience in working with people with depression, anxiety (including panic), adjustment difficulties, stress, trauma, PTSD, bipolar disorder, low self-esteem, grief and loss, interpersonal difficulties, as well as alcohol and drug use issues.