What causes depression is often unclear. It can be caused by a variety of biological, environmental, or psychological reasons. Some individuals may have a genetic proclivity for depression; they may experience debilitating illnesses; or they may find their body doesn’t work as well as it once did. Sometimes family members, spouses, or friends die or move away. Other times a person may not have good coping skills or may become overwhelmed and stressed. Finally, a persons’ sense of purpose and reason for wanting to live may fade.
When depression occurs, it may be difficult to understand what is happening and what to do. Complicating this issue is the fact there are different types of depression and differences in severity. People may not realize they are depressed, or they may feel as if they’re not themselves. Sometimes people gain weight. Other times people may be moody of irritable. Family members or friends may also notice persistent or vague complaints. However, despite all the differences, the general symptoms of depression include:
- Constant fatigue or loss of energy
- Disinterest in previously joyous activities
- Feelings of sadness that range from mild to severe
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Loss of appetite
- Memory problems and difficulty concentrating
- Negative thoughts, moods, or behavior
- Not wanting to get up in the morning
Friends and family can help by listening to the person and helping when the person is tired or exhausted. You must also realize depression is not easily fixed. Even if a person gets help, there will be ups and downs, so, if the person gets upset with you, don’t take it personally. It will also take time for the person to recover. The best thing you can do is to encourage the person to get a diagnosis and seek treatment. Once that happens, you can then root out and resolve the issues causing the depression.
Sometimes depression is linked to medication or physical ailments. For instance, if a person is elderly or taking several prescriptions, medication interactions can occur, or a person could be suffering from a disease that reduces hormone levels and creates depression. To learn more about how you can eliminate physical causes as a reason for depression in the elderly, read Ruling Out Physical Causes as a Cause of Depression in the Elderly. If you are not sure whether a person is clinically depressed or just blue, read Signs of Clinical Depression Versus Feeling Blue.