Feeling down or depressed from time to time is normal, but if these feelings last beyond two weeks or start to affect everyday life, this can be a sign of depression. Depression can develop slowly. Someone who is depressed does not always realize or acknowledge that they’re not feeling or behaving as they usually do.
Sometimes a partner, family member, or carer is first to realize that help is needed. They may encourage their friend or relative to see a Doctor or find some other source of support.
Signs that someone may be depressed
Depression has lots of possible symptoms. You may notice that someone:
- has lost interest in doing things they enjoy
- seems to be feeling down or hopeless
- has slower speech and movements or is more fidgety and restless than usual
- feels tired or does not have much energy
- is overeating or has lost their appetite
- is sleeping more than usual or is not able to sleep
- has trouble concentrating on everyday things, such as watching TV or reading the paper
Signs of depression in older people
Signs of depression in older people can include:
- empty fridges and cupboards (which suggest a poor diet)
- neglected appearance
- poor hygiene
- someone showing little joy in receiving visitors
Try these coping techniques if you are feeling depressed.
Stay in touch
Don’t withdraw from life. Socializing can improve your mood. Keeping in touch with friends and family means you have someone to talk to when you feel low.
Be more active
Take up some form of exercise. There’s evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start gently by walking for 20 minutes daily.
Face your fears
Don’t avoid the things you find difficult. When people feel low or anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to others. Some people can lose their confidence in going out, driving, or traveling. If this starts to happen, facing up to these situations will help them become easy.
Don’t drink excess alcohol
For some people, alcohol can become a problem. You may drink more than usual as a way of coping with or hiding your emotions, or just to pass the time. But alcohol won’t help you solve your problems and could also make you feel more depressed.
Try to eat a healthy diet
Some people don’t feel like eating when they’re depressed and are at risk of becoming underweight. Others find comfort in food and can put on excess weight. If you’re concerned about weight loss, weight gain, or how antidepressants affect your appetite, consult your Doctor.
Have a routine
When people feel down, they can get into poor sleep patterns, staying up late and sleeping during the day. Try to get up at your usual time and stick to your routine as much as possible. Not having a routine can affect your eating. Try to carry on cooking and eating regular meals.
Seeking help for depression
Get help if you are still feeling down or depressed after a couple of weeks. Treatments for depression include psychological therapies and antidepressants. You can talk it through with your Doctor first if you prefer. Your Doctor can also tell you about antidepressants. If you start to feel that your life is not worth living or about harming yourself, get help immediately.