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Your significant other has been acting a bit differently lately. You notice little things, but they seem to keep adding up bit by bit. The offhand comment about feeling hopeless with work. The change in their sleeping habits. The dwindling of their appetite. The more frequent arguments. It can be difficult to determine whether your loved one is just going through a rough patch or if they may be experiencing symptoms of depression.

The first step is to learn more about the signs and symptoms of depression. The following are common indicators that your loved one may be feeling more than just sad, especially if these symptoms occur for more than two weeks:

  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Poor Concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Low self-esteem
  • Hopelessness or guilt
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Taking an online mental health screening on behalf of your loved one, or offering to complete one with them can help you to determine whether their symptoms are consistent with depression or another mood or anxiety disorder. As part of National Depression Screening Day (October 6th), anonymous screenings are available at http://helpyourselfhelpothers.org. Once a screening is completed, users are connected with local treatment information.

It can be difficult to initiate a conversation with your loved one, but how you react to the presence of these symptoms is really important. Telling them that you are concerned about them, alerting them to changes you have been noticing, and offering to support them in getting treatment can be lifesaving.

Depression is treatable. If you have been putting this conversation off for a while, take some time during Depression Awareness Month to break out of your comfort zone and talk about this important topic.

For a complete list of depression symptoms, visit: NAMI.org