*Please be warned, this post addresses self-harm and signs of depression – if you’re at all triggered by or sensitive to these things, please don’t read this post*
As some of you may know, today marks the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week – now as cracking as it truly is to have a whole week dedicated to raising awareness, it’s so important to keep the conversation going afterwards. Our mental health is a long-term investment & something we need to be mindful of everyday – therein, we ought to be investing & raising awareness everyday.
With that said, I wanted to take some time to talk through some of the signs or symptoms you might see in someone who could be struggling with depression. Now it’s crucial to remember that depression is not a one-size-fits-all sweatshirt. It affects people in different ways, and what you might see in Person X, you might not see in Person Y. Sometimes the signs are clear, sometimes they’re not at all.
So, I had the idea to note just a few of the physical signs, a few things you might notice, that could signal someone you know might be struggling with depression:
Avoiding social situations
Depression eats away at so much, and it’s not limited to your ability to be around people. Suddenly going to the pub becomes too much; parties might be a no-go zone, clubbing is frightening, coffee mornings get cancelled. You might notice that there’s a string of excuses for not turning up, for cancelling engagements and a withdrawal from anything remotely sociable.
Withdrawal from friends & family
It can also see a lack of, or avoidance of contact with family and friends; you might hear from someone less and less, and then not at all. You might get short aloof bursts of contact. The thing with depression is – from personal experience – it can make you paranoid that you’re gonna bring other people down with you, that people won’t understand, that it’s therefore “easier” to stay out of the way.
Lost interest in hobbies/doing things they normally enjoy
If you notice that someone has stopped engaging in a regular hobby or lost interest in something they previously found pleasure in, then alarm bells might start to ring. This can also include a lack of interest in sex or decline in sex drive.
Seem to be low/down
We all get low, we all feel sad sometimes – that’s normal. But if someone’s been low for more than say, two weeks or so, you might need to check in with them. Sounds simple, but if they’re not being themselves, they seem to have a lack of hope for anything in the future, or have a wholly negative outlook, then there’s a chance they might be suffering with depression.
Lacking in self-care
We’re all guilty in this department – I’ll wager the majority of us don’t look after ourselves half as much as we should do. Self-care is bandied around but when it comes down to it, it can be as simple as washing your hair, cleaning your teeth or eating something – for those living with depression these things can sometimes become mountains. They might have a drastic change in their appetite, might not be sleeping/sleeping too much, or might not be upkeeping hygiene.
I used to have really bad mood swings; they’re not so bad now, but it’s definitely a result of poorly mental health. I’d cry at anything, felt sensitive to everything, would lose my temper at the slightest thing and have really black, dark moods. If someone is acting out of character and seems to be experiencing anything I’ve just mentioned, then there’s a good chance they might be struggling with depression. Remember, depression is an illness that can strip you of your character – it’s something you can’t even understand enough to explain to someone else, so it’s no surprise that emotions can become heightened.
I know. This is a tough one, but sadly it is a very serious sign of depression. Sometimes the pain of a mental illness can become so much that you feel numb; people suffering with depression might self-harm in order to provide relief and do it as a way to make themselves feel.
Singularly, some of these might not indicate depression at all, but if you find someone is showing multiple signs of these symptoms then there’s a good chance they’re probably not ok. Reach out to them; you’ve no idea how much starting a conversation can change someone’s life. Assure them you’re there, that you’re ready when/if they need to talk – you could direct them to the Samaritans who are available 24/7 for confidential chats whether on the phone or via email. They’ll listen and trust me, they’re the kindest folk in the world.
Some helpful contacts & all round lovely humans are:
116 123 (free 24 hour helpline)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Elefriends is a friendly, supportive online community for people experiencing a mental health problem. Provided through MIND.
SANEline: 0300 304 7000 (daily, 4.30-10.30pm)
Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, their families and carers.
Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)
*Contacts sourced through Mental Health Helplines – NHS
Thanks so much for reading my loves.
All the bear hugs,