How To Spot Depression In Your Family And Friends

April 19, 2020

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Amidst the chaos of the pandemic, openly discussing about worries and fears is vital at this time. Mental health awareness can pull a body away from the drowning waves of negative emotions. With no access to Psychiatric drugs or face-to-face therapy, how can you spot depression?

Since my background is in Psychology, my friends and loved ones feel safe to divulge the stories of their lives. I listen to their problems and provide ways to help them cope. When two of my close friends were diagnosed with depression, I immediately noticed the changes in their behavior and thought patterns. A physical condition such as an infected wound is easy to spot, but depression is another story.

Little do you know that mental illnesses such as depression is persistent in the Philippines. In fact, the suicide rate in the country is 2.5% for males and 1.7% in females (per 100,000 people)! Worldwide, close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year says WHO. You can only imagine these stats increasing as we are in the climax of a crisis. 

Depression is more than just the grave feelings of sadness. It is a serious mental illness that negatively affects one’s overall functioning. The experience of depression varies for each individual. While others may feel scared with their impending doom, some may feel apathetic about the entire situation. Evidence have shown that men have a tendency to feel restless and angry when they are depressed.

Read more: DEPRESSION, AWARENESS AND COPING: KNOW DEPRESSION, NO STIGMA


No matter how your friends or loved ones experience depression, it will interfere in their ability to function at home and at work. Sometimes they may feel as though nothing will change. However, you must help them realize that the feelings (e.g., helplessness or hopelessness) are driven by the symptoms of depression and not by the reality of the circumstance.

These symptoms must last for at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression to be made:

1. Feeling sad or having a depressed mood,

2. Loss of interest or pleasure in the activities once enjoyed (i.e., Anhedonia),

3. Changes in appetite (e.g., weight loss or gain),

4. Troubles in sleeping (e.g., insomnia or hypersomnia),

5. Loss of energy or excessive fatigue,

6. Increase in restless activities or slow movements,

7. Feeling worthless or guilty,

8. Difficulty in thinking, concentrating or making decisions,

9. And thoughts of death or suicide.

It is crucial that you recognize these symptoms in its early stages in order to help your loved ones who are in need. As a mental first aid to mend the emotional scars that your family members or friends have, introduce them to these hotlines.

The NCMH crisis hotline is accessible through 0917899-USAP (8727) or 989-USAP in the Philippines. For Singaporeans, you may call the 24-hour SOS hotline at 1800-221-4444 or write to pat@sos.org.sg. For people in United States you may reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. 

Human beings fear the unknown. This is why the lack of knowledge about mental illnesses lead to increased fear, negative sentiments, and social stigma. Despite the unpleasant these, you must educate yourself and others about it. Understanding the mechanisms of depression may help build a supportive environment wherein depressed individuals can feel safe to seek treatment.




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