Depression – First Aid

How do I know if someone is experiencing depression?

Even, only a trained professional can diagnose someone with depression, if you notice changes in the person’s behavior, their mood, energy levels, habits or personality, you should consider depression as a possible reason for these changes.

It is very important to find out about depression so that you are able to notice these symptoms and help someone who may be developing a depressive episode. It is so important that you do not ignore the symptoms you have recognized or assume that they will just go away. It is also vital that you do not lie or make excuses for the person’s behavior.

You should remain aware that each individual is different and not everyone who is experiencing a depressive episode will show the typical symptoms or signs of depression.

What are the symptoms or signs of depression?

A person with diagnosed clinical depression, have five or more of the following symptoms, including at least one of the first two, for at least two weeks:

  • an unusually irritable or sad mood that does not go away;
  • loss of interest and enjoyment in activities that used to be enjoyable;
  • tiredness and lack of energy;
  • feeling guilty or feeling worthless when they are not really at fault;
  • wishing they were dead or thinking about death a lot;
  • difficulty making decisions or concentrating;
  • moving more slowly or, sometimes, becoming agitated and unable to settle;
  • sleeping too much or having sleeping difficulties;
  • loss of interest in food or eating too much; changes in eating habits may lead to either loss of weight or putting on weight.

How should I approach someone who may be experiencing depression?

Unlike myth, talking about depression makes things better, not worse. If you think that someone you know may be depressed and needs help, give the person a chance to talk. It can be helpful to let the person choose the moment to open up. If the person does not talk with you about how they are feeling, you should say something to them to initiate a conversation.

Let the person know that you are concerned about them and are willing to help. It is important to choose an appropriate time when both you and the person are available to talk, as well as space where you both feel comfortable. If the person says that they are feeling sad or down, you should ask them how long they have been feeling that way. Assume that the person knows about depression as they, or someone else close to them, may have experienced depression before. At this point, you should ask the person if they would like some additional information about depression. If they do want some information, it is important that you give them resources that are accurate and appropriate to their situation.

You should respect how the person interprets their symptoms. If the person doesn’t feel comfortable talking to you, encourage them to discuss how they are feeling with someone else.