How to Spot Depression in Your Friends and Family

Openly discussing about worries and other negative emotions is a norm for me. Since my background is in Psychology, my friends and family members feel safe to divulge the stories of their lives. I listen to their problems and provide ways to help them cope. Recently, two of my friends were diagnosed with depression.


I immediately noticed the changes in their behavior and thinking. If I was not in the field of Psychology, I will perceive them as “normal”. They lived among us as though nothing bad is occurring inside them. A physical condition such as an infected wound is easy to spot, but depression is another story.


Little do you know that mental illnesses such as depression is persistent in the Philippines. In fact, the suicide rate in the country is 2.5% for males and 1.7% in females (per 100,000 people)!


Depression is more than just the grave feelings of sadness. It is a serious mental illness that negatively affects one’s overall functioning. The experience of depression varies for each individual. While others may feel scared with their impending doom, some may feel apathetic about the entire situation. Evidence have shown that men have a tendency to feel restless and angry when they are depressed.


Spotting Depression In Your Friends And Family


No matter how your friends or loved ones experience depression, it will interfere in their ability to function at home and at work. Sometimes they may feel as though nothing will change. However, you must help them realize that the feelings (e.g., helplessness or hopelessness) are driven by the symptoms of depression and not by the reality of the circumstance.


These symptoms must last for at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression to be made:


1. Feeling sad or having a depressed mood,


2. Loss of interest or pleasure in the activities once enjoyed (i.e., Anhedonia),


3. Changes in appetite (e.g., weight loss or gain),


4. Troubles in sleeping (e.g., insomnia or hypersomnia),


5. Loss of energy or excessive fatigue,


6. Increase in restless activities or slow movements,


7. Feeling worthless or guilty,


8. Difficulty in thinking, concentrating or making decisions,


9. And thoughts of death or suicide.


It is crucial that you recognize these symptoms in its early stages in order to help your loved ones who are in need. Human beings fear the unknown. This is why the lack of knowledge about mental illnesses lead to increased fear, negative sentiments, and social stigma. Despite the unpleasant these, you must educate yourself and others about it. Understanding the mechanisms of depression may help build a supportive environment wherein depressed individuals can feel safe to seek treatment.


As a mental first aid to mend the emotional scars that your family members or friends have, introduce them to the HOPELINE. HOPELINE Project, under the supervision of the Department of Health, seeks to bridge the Counselors and Psychologists to the people who are experiencing emotional crisis. This initiative aims to prevent suicide and to ease depression.

 Image Credit: Rappler

Image Credit: Rappler


Aside from expanding their resources, you may employ other measures to help them when it counts. Indulge a wisdom nugget or two by reading this post:


What to Do if Someone You Love Is Suicidal


I wish you well! 🙂

Anna Agoncillo

Anna is a Registered Psychometrician and a graduate of Cardiff Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. Earning a bachelor's degree with honors in Psychological Studies, lead her to a career of writing and teaching. She is also the author of the new book entitled Psychology of Love, Money, & Life.


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