It’s mostly the case that people with depression don’t often rush to tell someone what’s going on in their heads. Even today, when as a society we’re more aware of the toll that depression can take in a person’s life, a person who is experiencing depression and anxiety may be scared of what others will think or say. Because of this reluctance to share what might still be perceived as negative experiences, it’s important that close friends and relatives be able to recognise the changes in behaviour that accompany depression and anxiety. Once you recognise the signs and symptoms, you’re in a good position to stop and ask and show your concern and care.
It’s common for symptoms of anxiety to occur before or alongside, symptoms of depression. Sometimes these symptoms can be experienced as frightening or disabling and they can require specific forms of psychological treatment. When someone experiences an acute symptom of anxiety, such as a panic attack, they may decide to seek professional help.
Here is how depression and anxiety overlap:
Recognising depression in others
If you notice some – or many – of the following signs in a member of your close family or a friend you may consider the possibility that they are depressed:
Sometimes, these attitudes and behaviours are not easy to live with and can cause distress to close family members and friends. If these people feel overwhelmed, they may withdraw the support that’s so vital to the depressed and anxious individual. Often colleagues feel it’s not their place to comment on someone else’s attitudes and behaviour. Such caution when dealing with a person showing signs of anxiety and depression is understandable, however, it is essential that important people around the individual show their care and concern.
Remember: Ask yourself – ‘Could this behaviour be a sign of anxiety or depression?’ It’s a simple question to ask – and one that you owe to yourself and the person who is experiencing anxiety and mood disturbances.
Don’t turn away from the individual and hope they can help themselves. It’s difficult for an individual who is experiencing overwhelming and disabling thoughts and feelings to help themselves – or seek help. It’s because when these thoughts and feelings are present, the individual has difficulty in getting things together enough to help themselves.
Show them that you care by asking whether you can help and make it clear that you will stand by them.
To read more about depression and strategies for coping see Out of the Blues