2016-05-01 / OnCall

Noticing Depression

Sapana Mainali, M.D.

Q: How can I tell if someone is just feeling blue or if someone has clinical depression and needs professional help? What is the best way to approach that topic?

A: It’s natural for everyone to feel blue sometimes as a normal reaction to life’s ups and downs — struggles, setbacks and disappointments. However, if someone experiences these feelings for more than two weeks and they display other physical symptoms, they may be clinically depressed.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Loss of interest in friends, activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, short-temperedness or more
  • aggressive behavior than usual
  • Changes in appetite — either overeating or loss of appetite
  • Persistent aches and pains that do not ease with treatment
  • Loss of energy

Depression signs can vary from person to person, but when symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, it’s time to seek help.

If someone you know is depressed, try talking to them face to face. Be a good listener. If the depression can be linked to a specific cause, like losing a job or feeling lonely because they don’t have a lot of friends, it may be resolved by changing their situation. Finding a new job or getting involved in a hobby or an activity may yield a new circle of friends.

The best approach to helping someone who is depressed may be a combination of social support and helping them to make some lifestyle changes. If this does not seem to help, suggest that they talk to a professional.

Sapana Mainali, M.D.
Internal Medicine
Geisinger Scenery Park

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