Recognizing Depression in a Family Member

It can be difficult to know when a loved one needs treatment for depression. At first, you might think they are blue because they have hit a rough patch in life but, as time goes on, you might realize someone you care about has a mood disorder requiring professional care.

Recognizing the signs of depression in a family member is the first step to recovery. If your loved one has a few of these symptoms for more the two weeks, they may require professional help:

The individual might express feelings of sadness or emptiness. Someone who expresses hopelessness, helplessness, or feelings of worthlessness, most of the day, nearly everyday may be suffering depression.

Often individuals with depression will lose interest in things that he or she once found important or pleasurable, such as a hobby, work, or spending time with loved ones.

Depression causes changes in sleep habits, including: insomnia, sleeping poorly, and sleeping too much. These sleep issues may result in fatigue, trouble thinking or concentrating, and a lack of energy. Depression and insomnia often decrease performance and capabilities. Lack of sleep may also lead to irritability and restlessness.

The individual may show changes in his or her appetite and eating habits; this could mean increased appetite or decreased appetitive which may cause weight gain/loss.

A depressed family member may express inappropriate guilt or feelings of worthlessness. If a family member ever expresses suicidal thoughts or exhibits suicidal behavior, seek immediate treatment for that individual.

Family member involvement is often an important element in the recovery of depression. Scientific studies and clinical experience show patients are more likely to recover when they have the help and support of family.

If you suspect someone in your family is suffering from depression, encourage treatment. Explain that depression is a medical condition that can be helped with treatment. Suggest a doctor, mental health professional, or a depression treatment center.