Most of us have friends in our lives.
Maybe you have a squad, a posse, your peeps, your friend group, buddies, girlfriends, or some other name for your group of friends. Some you may have known since you were kids or others a year or less. Nonetheless, those we let into our circle are important to us. Generally, they’re the ones who we trust, who we think or know will stick around through thick and thin. You support them and they support you. But what if if someone you care about is going through a tough time and you don’t know it? Specifically, if they’re depressed. In this blog, we will talk about how to tell if a friend is hiding depression.
Depression is sneaky. It’s not always what we think it is. It’s not always sleeping all day or being sad or suicidal all the time. From subtle shifts in behavior to mood swings, altered sleep patterns, and changes in eating habits, we can learn to identify potential signs of depression so we can love our friends enough to have a conversation about it with them. Sometimes all a friend needs to start the path of healing or unload a heavy burden is for a friend to just ask them. In fact, asking a friend how they’re really doing could even save their life.
Starting open conversations with friends can truly be helpful. This blog will hopefully help you or a friend learn more about how depression may be hiding in the life of a friend.
Subtle Changes in Behavior
The first step in understanding if a friend is hiding depression is to pay attention to subtle changes in their behavior. While everyone has ups and downs, noticeable changes in their daily routines, habits, or demeanor might indicate something deeper. For instance, if your extroverted friend suddenly becomes withdrawn and avoids social gatherings, it could be a red flag. Alternatively, a normally punctual individual suddenly struggling with deadlines might hint at a lack of motivation and focus associated with depression.
Fluctuations in Mood
Mood swings are a natural part of life, but drastic and big moody episodes could be an indicator of underlying depression. If your friend’s moods oscillate between extreme highs and lows, it might be time to gently check in with them. While it’s crucial not to jump to conclusions, expressing your concern in a non-judgmental way could open the door for them to share their feelings.
Changes in Sleeping Patterns
Depression often disrupts sleep patterns. Keep an eye out for friends who are either sleeping excessively or struggling with insomnia. If your friend frequently complains about feeling fatigued or appears visibly exhausted, this could be a sign that they’re grappling with a deeper emotional struggle.
Similar to sleep patterns, changes in appetite are another common symptom of depression. Some individuals might experience a loss of appetite, resulting in weight loss, while others might turn to food for comfort, leading to weight gain. Take note if your friend’s eating habits deviate significantly from their norm.
Expressions of Hopelessness or Negativity
Listen closely to the way your friend talks about themselves and their future. Expressions of hopelessness, self-criticism, or a pervasive negative outlook on life might point towards hidden depression. If they consistently downplay their achievements or voice a lack of purpose, it’s a cue to dig deeper.
Loss of Interest in Hobbies
One of the telltale signs of depression is the loss of interest in activities that once brought joy. If your friend abruptly abandons hobbies they used to love or shows a general disinterest in things they were passionate about, it’s time to offer a listening ear.
Depression doesn’t always manifest as sadness. It can also surface as increased irritability, anger, or frustration over minor issues. If your friend seems to be unusually short-tempered or reacts strongly to situations that wouldn’t normally bother them, there might be an underlying emotional struggle.
Neglecting Personal Care
When battling depression, individuals often neglect their personal appearance and hygiene. If your friend starts showing signs of poor grooming, wearing the same clothes consistently, or generally disregarding their self-care routine, it could indicate a larger problem.
While it’s healthy to spend time alone occasionally, prolonged social isolation can be a sign of deeper issues. If your friend is avoiding social interactions and frequently canceling plans, it’s important to reach out and let them know you’re there to support them.
Hints at Self-Destructive Behavior
Listen carefully to your friend’s language for any hints of self-destructive thoughts. Phrases like “I can’t take it anymore” or “I wish I could just disappear” should be taken seriously. While you may not be a mental health professional, expressing your concern and urging them to seek help is crucial.
Supporting your Friend in Depression
Recognizing the signs of hidden depression in a friend is only the first step. Offering your support in a sensitive and non-intrusive manner is equally important.
Initiate a Conversation
Broaching the topic of depression can be challenging, but your friend needs to know you’re there for them. Choose a time and place where both of you can talk openly. Use “I” statements to express your observations and concerns, such as “I’ve noticed you’ve been withdrawing from activities lately.”
When your friend does open up, lend them an attentive ear without judgment. Sometimes, all they need is someone to listen, rather than offer solutions. Encourage them to share their feelings at their own pace.
Encourage Professional Help
While you can offer a supportive shoulder, remember that you’re not a substitute for professional help. Encourage your friend to seek assistance from a mental health expert who can provide proper guidance and treatment.
Offer to Accompany Them
The prospect of seeking help can be intimidating. Offer to accompany your friend to their first therapy session or doctor’s appointment. Your presence can provide comfort and ease their anxiety.
Engage in Positive Activities
Gently encourage your friend to engage in positive activities, even if they resist at first. A walk in the park, a movie night, or a simple coffee date can provide a refreshing break from their thoughts.
Start Working with A Depression Therapist in Grand Rapids, MI
You don’t have to struggle with the symptoms of depression alone. Our team of caring therapists would be happy to offer support in addressing the symptoms that affect you most. You can start your therapy journey with our Grand Rapids, MI-based practice by following these simple steps:
- Give Great Lakes Wellness Counseling a call today at (616)202-1910.
- Let’s schedule a time to talk about the best options for depression therapy for you.
- Start receiving the support you deserve!
Other Services Offered by Great Lakes Wellness Counseling
Depression therapy isn’t the only service offered at Great Lakes Wellness Counseling. At Great Lakes Wellness Counseling we offer a variety of services for teens, adults, and couples. Other services offered include Anxiety Treatment, Christian Counseling, Therapy for Men, and Therapy For Women. These services can be accessed both in person in Jenison and online throughout Michigan.