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The Sound of Silence: Non-Verbal Cues that Your Loved One is Depressed

Depression is a common mental health disorder, affecting over 260 million people worldwide. Unlike sadness caused by life's difficult moments, depression is a lingering condition that can cause hopelessness, anger, and loss of all enjoyment. Depression can disrupt every aspect of a person's life, harming relationships and careers. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide.

People suffering from depression often will not speak about their feelings. But you can recognize the warning signs in their behavior. Learning the non-verbal cues of depression can help you recognize it in a friend or family member and allow you to intervene.

Below are ten of the most common non-verbal signs of depression. Although none of these alone signals depression, a combination of these cues may indicate your loved one is depressed and needs help.

Changes in Sleep Patterns

Depression frequently causes sleep patterns to change. A depressed person may sleep significantly more than usual, sometimes during the day and night. However, unusual difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep might also be a sign of depression. Depressed people rarely have a "normal" eight hours of sleep each night.

Changes in Eating Habits

Some depressed people lose all interest in food and show a significant lack of appetite followed by weight loss. They stop eating the foods they love and rarely feel hungry.

Other sufferers eat more than usual when they are depressed to feel better temporarily. Overeating serves to make them feel less emotionally empty and works to numb the pain. Food becomes a drug.

You should be worried if your loved one gains or loses 5% of their body weight when they are not trying to alter their weight. Marked changes in eating habits are a common sign of depression.

Low Energy or Fatigue

Depression can drain an individual's energy. You might notice your loved one is less active or is tired much of the time. Most depressed individuals experience fatigue or nearly constant tiredness, no matter how much they sleep. When they are awake, they live a sedentary lifestyle.

Depression can kill a person’s interest in most things they once found enjoyable. Hobbies often go by the wayside as well due to general disinterest and low energy.

Withdrawal from Social Life

Depression often leads people to avoid contact and conversation. Your loved one might avoid answering phone calls or replying to emails and text messages. Individuals who are ordinarily lively and social may avoid their friends and family since interaction with others is difficult. They may even refuse to answer the door and have necessary items delivered rather than leave the house. Unfortunately, this isolation can also make depression worse.

Physical Agitation or Restlessness

Depression can cause a change in body language. Your loved one may show overt signs of physical agitation such as pacing and foot tapping. This restlessness is noticeable by others and is not in response to a particular situation. The depressed person may have trouble sitting still.

Your loved one may also become physically aggressive. Anger is part of depression for many, and while suffering from depression, sufferers are less able to regulate their behavior. Someone with no history of physical aggression may strike out at others.

Loss of Sex Drive

People suffering from depression often lose their sex drive, which can confuse their partners. This lack of interest in sex often takes a serious toll on relationships. Your depressed loved one may also detach from you emotionally and avoid spending time with you. This emotional detachment can lead to disinterest in sex, especially for couples in a long-term relationship.

Inadequate Personal Hygiene

If your loved one stops taking care of themselves, they may suffer from depression. This condition can make the simplest tasks seem overwhelming, and that includes taking a shower and putting on clean clothes. If your loved one suddenly neglects their personal hygiene, you have good cause to worry.

Increased Absences from Work or School

People often try to self-medicate to relieve the feelings that come with depression. You may notice that your loved one is drinking more, smoking pot often or taking illegal drugs regularly. This behavior often masks the real issue - depression. An increase in self-medicating behaviors is a warning sign.

A Messy House or Apartment

If a normally tidy person stops doing routine housework, it can be another non-verbal sign of depression. They may no longer care about cleanliness, or they simply do not have the energy to take care of these chores. A depressed person can feel that mopping the floor is simply too much to tackle. Even the little tasks become a major struggle.

Finding Help for Depression

Depression is a complicated condition and more than a simple chemical imbalance. Sufferers cannot just "snap out of it." Taking prescription drugs may not be enough. A depressed person needs professional help. If you believe your family member or friend is suffering from depression, urge them to take action. Simply going to their general practitioner is an excellent first step. These medical professionals can often recommend outpatient care for depression and discuss whether the use of anti-depressants if indicated.

In Michigan, Strong Therapy and Community Support (STACS) in Kalamazoo tailors its treatment to fit the individual. Their expert staff offers individual therapy, group therapy and counseling geared toward people with depression.

For more information, fill out the convenient online form or call 269-978-8874. Depression should never be left untreated.

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