Is Someone You Love Depressed?

by Sally R. Connolly, LMFT and John E. Turner, LMFT


 Living with someone who is depressed can look and sound very differently than what you would normally expect of a person suffering from depression. For some it may have more the appearance of anger and irritability. For others, it may seem like laziness or irresponsibility. While for others it may seem like a deep sadness with a lot of tears and sad, unhappy and negative talk.

Here are some questions for you to consider when thinking about someone you love who does not seem to be acting in ways that are healthy and positive.

  • Has there been a change in sleep habits? Does your loved one sleep a lot more or a lot less than in the past?
  • Has there been a marked change in his or her eating habits, eating a lot more and gaining weight or eating a lot less and losing weight?
  • Does your loved one seem to be a lot more unhappy and negative and have difficulty recognizing the good things in life?
  • Does he or she seem to have a lot of trouble with making decisions?
  • Is your loved one more forgetful and seem to have difficulty concentrating?
  • Do you notice frequent irritability or an underlying anger?
If you answer “yes” to several of these questions, the answer may be that your loved one is suffering from depression.

Some beginning things for you to consider as a way to be helpful are:

Educate yourself about depression. Learning more about it may help you find ways to talk with the person you love about your concerns.

Talk with them and acknowledge the positive things about him/her and your life together. Know that it may be hard to hear positive talk. You do not want to come off as “fake” so you will want to keep comments small, specific and behavioral like “Thanks for getting the children today.” “That color really looks nice on you.” “I appreciate your ideas about this and will absolutely use them.”
  • Recognize that depression is not something one chooses and can readily change. It is not about being lazy or irresponsible and a “cure” does not happen overnight. Some live with sad or down times off and on throughout their life and will often struggle with and look for ways to cope with it effectively.
  • Remind your loved one of things that they have done in the past to feel better and get through tough times. It may be that these same things will work once more.
  • Take care of yourself to make sure that you, and your children, do not “catch” the depression. The “blues” and negativity can be contagious so you want to find ways to immunize yourself and prevent its spread.
  • If your loved one will not talk with a therapist or the doctor, consider going yourself.