Friendship 911, how to recognize when a friend is suffering from depression

Depression is a serious problem, and with the rise of depression in teens, it is important to know how to recognize when your friends are suffering from depression so that you can help them to help themselves.

With teens depression is not like it is with adults. You will find that your friends may exhibit irritability as the predominant mood, not so much being depressed. They may act hostile, grumpy, or easily lose their temper.

Also, if your friend complains of unexplained aches and pains, such as headaches and stomachaches, you may want to have some concern as this is also a common symptom of depression in children and teens.

The following are some of the signs that indicate someone is suffering from depression:

  • Depressed mood: Feeling hopeless, sad, discouraged, or empty. If no matter what you do, you can’t cheer your friend up, and they are easily discouraged, or disheartened, this may be a sign that they are suffering from depression.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure: One of the big signs of depression is the inability to experience pleasure. So, if nothing seems to interest your friend anymore, including former hobbies, social activities, etc. it is probably time to find them some help.
  • Appetite or weight changes: Significant weight loss or weight gain-meaning a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month, indicates something serious. People who are depressed often lose their appetite, or they over eat. So, if you notice your friend’s eating habits change significantly, you may want to explore further and see if they are depressed.
  • Sleep changes: Insomnia or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia) are signs of depression. This is not something you are really going to notice, but your friend may talk about how they can’t sleep, or about how tired they are even though they sleep all of the time. If you notice this, talk to your friend about the effects of depression.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation: this is a sign of depression you will immediately notice, but may not know what to attribute it to. If your friend starts acting very anxious, is unable to sit still, is restless or sluggish, has abnormally slow speech and body movements, or lack of responsiveness, they may be suffering from some very serious depression.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy: There are times when you are going to be energy less, and that is normal. But, if your friend is physically drained after even small tasks, or wakes up and routine things are exhausting, you may want to talk to them about depression.
  • Self-loathing: Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and harsh criticism of perceived faults and mistakes are a common sign of depression in teen girls. This is not normal. Some self criticism is, but being unable to see good in yourself is a sign of depression.
  • Concentration problems: Inability to focus, difficulty making decisions, and memory problems are not always because of ADD and ADHD, but are commonly categorized inappropriately. Such behaviors and problems with focus can also be an effect of depression.
  • Irritability: Grouchy, easily annoyed, and frustrated by little things, and angry outbursts are all signs of depression. When someone is depressed even little things can make them frustrated and angry. So, if your friend seems abnormally irritable, or at least more irritable than a regular person should be, you may want to talk to them about depression.


How to help:

Find out why your friend is depressed. You may already know.did they just have a bad break-up or did their parents get divorced?

Don’t tell your friend stuff like life is still worth living, the situation will improve and the sadness will get better. This trivializes their pain and will not help.

Advise them to seek professional help. Depression is not something that goes away by itself after a while. It is a serious mental illness.

Don’t press them too hard.

Keep them talking, as it helps, but, don’t force them to be dependent on you.