Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental health disorders, affecting millions of individuals around the globe. When it hits close to home and impacts a loved one, it can be extremely difficult to cope with. If you have someone in your life who is struggling with these conditions, you will want to be able to recognize the signs that it’s time to offer them help and support so that you can intervene quickly.
In this blog, we explore some of the key indicators that someone close to you might need professional assistance for their depression or anxiety. If you are interested in learning more about treatment for depression and anxiety, visit New Dimensions at www.nddtreatment.com.
Persistent Mood Changes
Arguably, the earliest sign of depression or anxiety is a noticeable change in mood. If your loved one is newly irritable, sad, mopey, or appears emotionally withdrawn, it could be a sign that they’re dealing with inner turmoil. While mood fluctuations are, of course, a normal part of life, persistent negative emotions indicate a deeper issue that requires prompt attention.
A sudden withdrawal from social activities or a decreased interest in hobbies and interactions with friends and family might be an indicator of underlying mental health concerns. People struggling with depression or anxiety often find it challenging to take part in activities they once loved. Instead, they tend to isolate themselves and shut out other people.
Changes in Sleep Patterns
Keep an eye out for changes in the person’s sleep patterns, especially if they were a good sleeper beforehand. Insomnia or excessive sleeping can both be signs of depression or anxiety. Disrupted sleep exacerbates these conditions and makes it difficult to keep up with any healthy habits.
Depression and anxiety don’t just affect the mind; they also manifest as physical symptoms. The mind and the body are deeply intertwined, so when one area is suffering, the other is sure to follow. Frequent headaches, stomachaches, muscle tension, and unexplained pain can all be indicative of mental health struggles.
Loss of Interest
If your loved one, out of nowhere, loses interest in activities or people that previously held importance for them, it is likely to be a red flag. A lack of enthusiasm for things they love can be a clear-cut sign that they’re battling depression or anxiety.
Changes in Appetite
Large changes in appetite, whether it’s a sudden increase or decrease in eating habits, can be a sign of mental health issues as well. Depression often leads to either overeating or loss of appetite, while anxiety might cause nausea or a feeling of fullness even when the person hasn’t eaten much.
Depression and anxiety can make it hard to concentrate or make decisions, as the mind is consumed with catastrophizing. If your loved one is struggling to focus on tasks that used to be routine or finding it hard to make even the simplest of choices, it could be an indication of their suffering.
Listen closely to the way your loved one talks about themselves. A preoccupation or obsession with self-criticism, feelings of worthlessness, or excessive guilt can all be signs of severe depression. Negative self-talk is often a reflection of the distorted thought patterns that accompany these disorders. This is a dangerous road to go down as it can often worsen and lead to more drastic thoughts, like suicide.
Increased Substance Use
Sometimes, people turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances in an attempt to cope with their emotional pain. This allows them to numb what they are feeling for a temporary moment. If you notice that the person is relying more heavily on substances or is beginning to dabble in them for the first time, it might be an indication that they’re struggling.
Feelings of Hopelessness
Pay attention to any statements that convey a sense of hopelessness or a belief that things will never get better. Such expressions can be clear signs that your loved one is battling deep emotional pain and might need professional support to navigate through it.
This is perhaps the most critical and terrifying sign that your loved one needs immediate help. If they express thoughts of suicide or self-harm, it’s crucial to take these statements seriously and seek professional assistance immediately. Do not second guess their words or attempt to rationalize them. Any suggestions of harming oneself should be treated as a real threat.
Next Steps To Consider
Recognizing these signs is the first step, but how can you approach the situation with sensitivity? Below are some tips for offering support:
- Choose the Right Time and Place: Initiate a conversation in a quiet and comfortable environment, where your loved one feels safe and heard.
- Be Completely Non-Judgmental: Approach the conversation with empathy and without judgment. Your goal is to create an open space for them to share their feelings, not make them feel defensive or attacked.
- Express Concern: Let them know that you’ve noticed changes in their behavior and that you’re genuinely concerned about their well-being. You can do this in a kind way, without pointing fingers.
- Offer to Help: Suggest that they get help and reassure them that it’s okay to ask for it. Offer to assist them in finding a therapist or doctor if needed, as they might be lacking the intrinsic motivation to do so.
- Listen With An Open Mind: Let them speak openly without interrupting or interjecting advice. Simply listening can make them feel understood and supported.
- Be Patient: Recovery takes time, and you will need to be patient and supportive throughout the process. It is their journey, not yours.
- Take Care: Encourage them to lean on healthy habits like regular exercise and a clean diet. These practices will make them feel better physically, which is intricately linked to their mental state.
- Stay Connected: Continue to check in on your loved one and offer your support periodically. Consistent communication can make a big difference when dealing with someone who is isolated.
- Respect Their Choices: Ultimately, the decision to seek help rests with the one you love. Respect their autonomy while gently reminding them that seeking assistance is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Supporting a loved one with depression or anxiety can be challenging, but your presence and understanding can make a world of difference. Knowing when and how to step in can give you some power in what might feel like a hopeless situation. In many cases, our loved ones are in desperate need of our support. Using the above strategies can help guide you as you navigate this difficult time.
New Dimensions Can Help!
New Dimensions has outpatient counseling programs for adolescents and adults who are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues. To learn more about our services, including psychological testing, Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP), Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), and interventions for substance abuse, contact us at 800-685-9796 or visit our website at www.nddtreatment.com. To learn more about individual, family, and couples counseling visit www.mhthrive.com.