Dual Diagnosis

Signs of Depression Families & Parents NEED to Know

Depression isn’t a bad mood: it’s a serious condition. You can help a depressed friend by reading our blog and recognizing their symptoms.

Signs of Depression

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

November 21, 2022

The Edge Treatment Center

Feeling low or sad is not the same thing as depression. Anyone can have a rough workplace week or be navigating an ugly breakup. Such things typically bring about a feeling of melancholy, but the depression that sets in as a serious medical condition is much more severe. Depression is closer to being a mental health problem, often referred to as a mood disorder. It goes beyond making someone feel lost or unmotivated for a few days.

Most individuals with a substance use disorder in the U.S. are not receiving treatment. 15.35% of adults had a substance use disorder in the past year. Of them, nearly 3.5% did not receive any form of therapy [Mental Health America]

Clinical depression is the more commonly understood name for a major depressive disorder. When this happens, the person cannot overcome sadness, loneliness, or hopelessness. In its clinical form, depression does not last for days or weeks. It takes over like a chronic health condition, bringing about a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. People suffering from depression are likely to be less productive at work or school and incapable of healthy social interactions.

This is why it is imperative that, as a parent, guardian, or close friend, you can spot someone who seems clinically depressed. For this, you need to understand the more common signs of depression that have been explained below.

The More Common Signs of Depression in the Young, Children & Teens

Clinical depression in children is different from what is referred to as teenage blues. The latter is a part of growing up where behavior patterns with puberty tend to change. Teens typically seem to have more mood swings during this period. It’s why parents should note that the lack of happiness in their child is not always a sign of depression – it can be a passing phase that will soon be over.

However, depression is a serious problem when the sadness increases and gets chronic. Depression that persists can be very damaging to how kids perform at school. This is when depression manifests in a very disruptive manner. Kids conduct themselves differently, either getting too aggressive or shying away from regular interactions in their age group and at home.

Some typical signs of depression among the young includes:

  • Increasing irritability with the person getting unreasonably argumentative

  • Refusal to step out of the home, even refusing to go to school

  • An alarming drop in the body weight

  • A feeling of being misunderstood despite a healthy family environment

  • Sustained avoidance of social interaction with a pattern of lying to avoid stepping out

Parents and teachers should watch out if their kid is increasingly losing interest in hobbies, suddenly slipping away in academics, and struggling to communicate with friends and loved ones.

If the sadness or irritability with your kid persists beyond 2 - 3 weeks, keep a close watch on early signs of depression, such as increasing social isolation or anything that hints at substance abuse. Yes, depressed children, particularly teens, are vulnerable to turning to alcohol or recreational drugs when they are depressed.

The More Common Signs of Depression in the Elderly

Depression is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood among the aged. Cognitive impairment is among the more common depressive symptoms in the elderly. It is important to remember that depression is not inherent in aging. As people get older, they might have short-term episodes of sadness, as retirement can bring about a feeling of being left out and decreased social interactions. More commonly seen depression signs in the elderly can be very pronounced or subtle, and this includes:

  • More than an anticipated loss of memory, finding it hard to remember the most recent things

  • Increasing lethargy accompanied by poor appetite and sleeplessness

  • Loss of sexual desire not caused by a disease or medication

  • An obvious preference for isolation over socializing

Which Are the More Common Psychological Signs of Depression?

Some of the more common signs of depression in men, women, and children include:

  • A more than natural inclination towards feeling embarrassed or helpless

  • Finding it increasingly difficult to focus on work at the office or classroom

  • A gradual decline in the ability to quickly recall things

  • Struggling with deliberation with an increased likelihood of getting easily confused

  • A persistent feeling of disappointment or despair

  • Overwhelming negative emotions, such as continuously worrying about something

  • The feeling of anxiety, such as fearing the worst possible outcomes in everyday situations

  • Declining enthusiasm for things that once used to be pleasurable

  • A consistent state of restlessness despite no triggers to bring about the irritation

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Which Are the More Common Physical Signs of Depression?

Clinical depression will most likely bring about a certain degree of physical manifestations. The more commonly observed physical signs of depression include:

  • Easily getting exhausted when conducting everyday physical activities

  • A certain lack of vigor in performing daily activities like getting dressed up

  • Feeling sleepy throughout the day and oversleeping

  • Feeling bodily pains despite no clinical cause

  • Unexplained headaches or a feeling of heaviness

  • Signs of digestive disorder such as reflux, bloating, or indigestion

  • Disturbed eating patterns that can cause weight gain or weight loss due to overeating or losing interest in favorite foods

More Serious Signs of Depression: Self-Harm, Suicidal Tendencies, Intent to Harm Others

If left unchecked, clinical depression can bring serious repercussions, more psychotic symptoms that might lead to self-harm, and the sufferer might develop suicidal tendencies. In cases of severe depression, the person is also likely to suffer from hallucinations and delusions apart from paranoia. A seriously depressed individual might even talk about hearing voices or intent to harm someone else.

Parents and guardians should note that unchecked negative emotions can lead to harmful coping mechanisms. Not just self-harming behaviors, the depressed might seek short-term relief in the form of substance abuse. Alcohol addiction has a high probability in such cases. Further, not everyone who is depressed might talk about suicidal thoughts. Alternatively, when someone in the family shares such negative thoughts, family members might turn it down as a temporary feeling arising from frustration.

You must seek intervention if you find a friend, colleague, or family member displaying any behavior that indicates such severe and possibly fatal symptoms of depression.

Understanding Isolation as a Sign of Depression

A person suffering from depression might find it very challenging to articulate the innermost thoughts and emotions in a way that makes it easy to be understood by others. Frustrated by having nobody who can understand the depression, the affected might isolate themselves, withdrawing from interactions at home and outside. The symptoms can be so severe that you might want to spend more time in a room, isolated from everyone. This can have severe consequences for someone's personal life, especially relationships and finances.

This is when you can help a friend or a loved one by communicating more and making a sincere effort to help the person explain the symptoms of depression. However, this should not be confused with a few days of social withdrawal that can typically happen after a romantic breakup or something as unpleasant as getting fired from a job.

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Understanding Hopelessness as a Sign of Depression

When someone is depressed, the things that once used to be enjoyable may no longer hold the same appeal. Withdrawal or loss of interest in once pleasurable activities is perhaps the easiest-to-understand example of this.

Typically, a depressed person can lose interest in sports or hobbies like gardening or working out at the gym. This state of getting easily bored might be accompanied by hopelessness, where the affected easily gives up on the most minor things. This might be a defining feature of depression for some people who might develop extreme feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred and become increasingly pessimistic.

Such symptoms of depression often come with a heightened sense of guilt, getting apologetic despite not committing a grave mistake.

An Overview of Causes of Depression

Family members, parents, and guardians should also have a more-than-basic understanding of the most common causes of depression. This includes:

  • Biological Reasons: This type of depression is rather hard to identify at the early stage. This is when alterations in the levels of neurotransmitters bring about depression. When the balance of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine is disturbed, the person can suffer from depression.

  • Related to Gender: While depression can happen to anybody, signs of depression in women present a pattern. Women who are experiencing pregnancy are vulnerable to feeling low. Similarly, postpartum or childbirth-related depression makes some women more susceptible to feeling depressed. Among women undergoing perimenopause, depressive disorders can surface, making them more likely to experience depression as compared to men of similar age.

  • Due to Substance Abuse: Abuse of alcohol and drugs can be the cause and outcome of depression. Yes, the depressed might turn to alcohol, whereas undiagnosed substance abuse can also cause depressive behavior. The most commonly abused substances, including different types of recreational drugs, can aggravate depression.

  • Due to Other Conditions: Signs of depression in men and women can have a similar pattern among people suffering from chronic or terminal diseases. Such folks need constant care, and consuming multiple medications or prescription drugs can lead to insomnia and irritability. Chronic illness care can also cause hormone imbalances that might trigger depressive symptoms.

Trying to Cure Depression

Please understand that there is no immediate cure for depression. Even if the symptoms improve initially after taking anti-depressants, the more serious symptoms can return in a more severe form. In such instances, the underlying cause of depression is usually not dealt with. This is just like treating the symptoms of a disease without curing the infection. However, if you receive proper therapy, you can gradually control and manage depression, making it almost non-existent. This is the recommended way to lead a happy, depression-free life.

Getting help for depression might be a problem when this condition co-exists with other mental health problems like anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or eating disorders. This is why it is vital to allow a trained professional to evaluate a person for depression and diagnose the reasons that are causing depressive symptoms.

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How Should Families and Friends Handle a Depression-Linked Emergency?

If you come across someone who seems suicidal or violent, clearly showing extreme symptoms of depression, you need to seek professional help. This can happen in the form of taking the person to an addiction and drug rehabilitation center that works with people struggling with mental health issues. If someone seems likely to bring about immediate harm to himself or those around, take away any weapons, drugs, or other potentially hazardous objects. Do not try to be judgmental. Instead, maintain your patience and stay with the person until help arrives. You can seek help by calling your area's nearest crisis or injury prevention hotline.

You can also call other family members for assistance to help you navigate such stressful situations. At all times, do not try to confront directly or medicate someone who is clearly not behaving rationally.

Concluding Thoughts

Depression is characterized by certain symptoms that everyone should know about as responsible parents, guardians, or friends. Clinical depression should not be confused with laziness or a lack of interest. If left untreated, depression symptoms can quickly turn into a major depressive disorder, and this causes severe, unwanted changes in a person's emotional, cognitive, and behavioral functioning.

Short-term depressive episodes are handled differently than chronic depression, which is more like a chronic illness. It is better not to wait for someone to "snap out of it" and provide the correct type of help. Depression treatment can often be for a few months or even a year, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

Get Help for Depression at The Edge Treatment Center

The Edge Treatment Center is the nation's leading drug addiction recovery provider. Based out of Orange County, California, the facility offers more flexibility across its treatment plans to ensure that every individual gets the personalized treatment that can bring about better and quicker results, paving the way to gain sobriety and a normal, healthier life. The range of treatment includes help for people where depression is closely associated with substance abuse and alcoholism, using a combination of professional therapies and personal supervision at every step of the recovery.

Don’t live with depression: it’s treatable. Talk to The Edge Treatment Center today and start building a happier life.

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