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.
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 of interest in activities, even activities they used to enjoy.
Depression Can Affect Anyone
As Jamie shows us, depression doesn't have one look.
Depression can impact anyone, not just the people who seem to be the most lonely, sad, or unmotivated.
Understanding 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 5 or more of the below symptoms (including either or both of a depressed mood and loss of interest or pleasure)
To the point of distress or impairment
During the same 2-week period on a daily or near-daily basis
Having a depressed mood
Significantly less enjoyment of activities most of the day
Significant weight loss or gain without dieting, including decreased or increased appetite
A slowing down of thoughts and physical movement that's noticeable to others
Fatigue or very low energy
Feeling worthlessness or guilt at high levels
Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
Thinking often of death, having suicidal ideation, or making plans to end one's life
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's important to recognize when patterns of these behaviors set in.
If you notice that your friend Sally is upset, and she tells you that it's because she had a hard day at work, this doesn't mean 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 doesn't 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's 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, check in with them.
Regardless of whether the person is struggling with depression, you can still be a help to their mental health.
If you think your friend might be experiencing depression: