Jamie is a star college student.

From the outside, his life seems perfect. On the inside, though, Jamie barely has the motivation to do anything. He feels fake every time he smiles. At the end of a day, Jamie goes home and wishes that he could disappear.

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Though many in Jamie's life would never guess it, Jamie is struggling with Major Depressive Disorder, also known as clinical depression.

Clinical depression is a condition generally characterized by a lowness in mood and a loss interests in activities, even activities they used to enjoy.

Depression Can Affect Anyone

As Jamie shows us, depression doesn't have one look.

Flaticon Icon Depression can impact anyone, not just the people who seem to be the most lonely, sad, or unmotivated.

Knowing how to recognize the signs of depression can help you know when it's time to support a friend or ask for help yourself.

The Signs Of Depression

According to the DSM-5, someone can be diagnosed with clinical depression if they:

  • Experience five or more of the below symptoms (including at least one of (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure )

    • To the point of distress or impairment

    • During the same 2-week period


  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.

  2. Significantly less enjoyment of activities most of the day, nearly every day.

  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting, or weight gain. This includes decreased or increased in appetite nearly every day.

  4. A slowing down of thoughts and physical movement that's noticeable to others.

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  1. Fatigue or very low energy nearly every day.

  2. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt nearly every day.

  3. Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or make decisions, nearly every day.

  4. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation, or an attempt to take one's life.

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Leslie notices that her friend Hannah has been acting differently lately. Hannah has started taking much longer to respond to texts and often says no to invitations to hang out. What is the best way for Leslie to check in with Hannah?

Caring For Someone With Depression

Clinical depression can be treated through therapy and prescription medicine. A strong support system makes this journey easier.

If someone you know begins to display signs of depression or is acting differently than usual, check in with them.

While momentary feelings of sadness or disinterest are human, it is important to recognize when patterns of these behaviors set in.

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If you notice that your friend Sally is upset, and she tells you that it's because she had a hard day of work, this does not mean that Sally has depression. But, if you notice that she seems disappointed in herself most days, and is consistently unhappy with her life, this may be a sign of something more. By talking to her, you're able to provide her support.

Remember, depression does not have one look. When in doubt, check in.


Rob has been canceling plans with you and your friends for the past few weeks, saying he is busy. When you see him, he seems a bit distracted and down. What should you do?


If you notice differences in a person's standard behaviors, approach them from a place of concern. Share what you have noticed and make it clear that you want to provide them support. Regardless of whether the person is struggling with depression, you can still be a help to their mental health. When in doubt, check in with them.

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This Byte has been authored by


Mandy Mekhail

Strengths-Based & Cultural Responsive Practitioner