How to Tell If Someone You Love Is Suffering From Depression

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Sadness is a natural, normal human emotion that all people experience from time to time. However, clinical depression or depressive disorder is not normal. As the illness develops from a mixture of biological, psychological and social problems, symptoms manifest in different ways in different people depending on age and gender. Depression does not always involve obvious sadness. When noticing abnormal changes in behaviors, emotions or thought processes lasting more than two weeks, these signs may indicate that a loved one is suffering from depression. Clinicians compiled a list of common depression characteristics.


At varied times in our lives, our interests change for one reason or another. However, in depressed people, these changes are more dramatic. They no longer find joy in spending time with loved ones. When it comes to work or school, they may seem robotic and only go through the motions. They prefer activities that require a minimum of effort.

Sleep Disturbances

Depressed people may have difficulty falling asleep. They might also wake frequently during the night or awaken to start a new day after only a few hours of sleep. The behavior is often noticed by family members, friends or significant others who live with the individual and who subsequently also suffer disrupted sleep patterns out of concern.

Altered Eating Habits

Some people attempt to self-soothe using food. Because of a lack of physical activity, a significant weight gain is the consequence of the behavior. On the other hand, a loss of interest in former things that once brought happiness or satisfaction might also include losing their appetite. As a result, they lose weight and may suffer from malnutrition.


Depression makes some feel as if they are trapped alone in a dark pit and they struggle with normal day-to-day routine. Little annoyances feel like major obstacles that cause frustration, irritability and anger. Their hypersensitivity may produce angry outbursts. They lash out at people around them for no apparent reason. During the course of a conversation, they habitually express negativity concerning ideas.

No Self-Confidence

Someone who was formerly happy, self-confident and optimistic but now behaves in an opposite frame of mind is likely suffering from depression. They seem to be drowning in a sea of negativity and hopelessness and they cannot seem to be able to find a way to shore.

Suicidal Tendencies

Overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness and loneliness, depressed people may lose the desire to live. They might engage in risky behavior and seem unconcerned about the danger. They often make passive statements that to them, life or death equally have no meaning. Others may share that they have entertained thoughts about ending their life. If you suspect that a family member of friend is struggling with the mental illness, recommend that they someone, get diagnosed and treated.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "How to Tell If Someone You Love Is Suffering From Depression," in, February 21, 2016, (accessed March 22, 2023).