How to Spot Depression in Others

You could be the ray of hope a friend, colleague, or family member needs to overcome depression. In today’s busy world, everybody is consumed with self. It is easy to ignore the surrounding world. Taking care of your mental health is crucial. Part of developing a healthy mindset is helping others who are struggling. In an area where you are thriving, you can be a blessing to someone else.

Even researchers have evidence on the advantages of altruism. It is not only a stress buffer but also reduces mortality from such conditions. Another study postulated that the benefits of lending a helping hand include contentment, increased self-worth, happiness, and reduced depressive and psychological anguish.

There are observable symptoms in a depressed individual that can help you determine if someone you know has depression. However, you have to realize depression is not a one-size-fits-all type of disorder. Symptoms vary according to temperament, degree of resilience, stressor, and ethnicity. You can base your observations alongside these factors.

Observable Symptoms of Depression  


Irritation and annoyance are ordinary symptoms of depression. The agitation is a result of pent-up emotions and lack of regulation. Frequent exposure to stressors such as disappointments, failures, or rejection can make someone impatient and impulsive. There is growing inner tension from expecting the worst out of life.

Agitation also causes restlessness. You will notice the person pacing around because the situation is overwhelming. Additionally, the person becomes cranky not because of anger but out of annoyance. Small things aggravate their ability to calm down.


Anxiety instigates and worsens depression. The anxious state is the aftermath of a stress response initiated by the body. Normally, the body initiates the response as a defense mechanism in the face of danger in preparation for fight or flight. However, in depression, the stress response occurs frequently because of increased triggers.

The depressed individual is often in a perpetual state of anxiety. Symptoms include hyperventilation - feeling as if the heart is about to jump off the chest. Difficulty breathing is another sign of an anxiety attack. The body increases breathing and heart rate to increase oxygen supply to the muscles. Muscular contraction and relaxation are vital for fight or flight. You will spot muscular tremors and shaking due to increased muscle activity.

Additionally, anxiety affects the digestive system. It causes nausea, diarrhea, hyperacidity, and suppresses appetite. You will notice the person avoiding meals or is unable to keep food down. A person who had no food problems can suddenly develop an antagonistic relationship with food.

Biased Cognition

Depression also affects cognition. It distorts cognitive processing and enhances emotional dysregulation. The person acquires a negative outlook on life and cannot get their reasoning out of the negativity pit. They are unable to use positivity to shift their mental process. Rumination enhances negativity. The person’s ability to think, recall, and solve-problems reduces because the mind has acquired a negative bias.

Furthermore, depression also interferes with concentration. Focus shifts on the stress response to cope with the stressor. Anxiety and panic attacks heighten inattention. The person becomes forgetful, leaves tasks incomplete, and absconds responsibilities. The neglect is not a product of laziness. It is the outcome of mental distress.


The worst aspect of depression is the state of despair it creates. It takes away any positive expectation of the future. There is no room for improvement. The light at the end of the tunnel might as well be an oncoming train.

Despair breeds delusion. It sustains the belief that all is lost even when facts are disproving the contrary. It makes the person stop trying to improve their state or find solutions. It takes away the will to live.

For the affected individual, living is futile. There is no need to keep fighting when their efforts will not amount to anything. They may do the bare minimum to maintain appearances or not be bothered at all.


Low self-image goes beyond beauty and physique. It is a devalue of all aspects of self. Not even thoughts or inputs are spared in this wrong perception of self. The individual underestimates the significance of their presence and contributions. They also doubt their abilities and crumble at criticism.

Not to be confused with modesty, low-self worth stems from negative thinking. The person genuinely feels like they do not belong. They could never fit in a crowd. They could never measure up to idyllic societal expectations.

On the flip side, the person can also become overly confident to overcompensate for their inadequacies. They become obsessed with their image rubbing it into the weaklings in the group. The phenomenon is called displacement, where an individual projects their negativity on someone less threatening. In this case, it is someone who mirrors their inner frustration.

Suicide Ideation

Having suicidal tendencies is more than listening to deathly music or a fascination with death. Although research has linked the love of sad music to high psychoticism, it is not the only determinant. Suicide ideation begins as persistent thoughts and morphs into a fascination with death. The individual may be vocal about it or enjoy living on the brink of death. It also includes self-harming and actual suicidal planning and attempts.

Risky Behavior

Mental distress is physically painful. Before an individual identifies their triggers, the pain acts like an un-scratchable itch. Efforts to quench this itch are misguided because the source is unknown. The go-to plan is always suppression. Pain suppression only creates a boomerang effect on the individual. The more feelings are suppressed, the harder their impact is felt.

Substance abuse is one of the ways humans try to mask their issues. Using alcohol may provide temporary relief but augments the hurt once its effect wears off. The same is true with drugs. The two substances also increase dependence and tolerance. For this reason, a depressed individual may become an alcoholic or addicted to drugs to numb the pain.

Promiscuity is another self-destructive behavior. Sex, just like alcohol and drugs, provides temporary relief. It is also addictive and destructive to the person’s mental health.

A depressed individual does not always isolate. They can be the life of the party; it is pure sunshine when they are around. They are hilarious, loud, and enjoyable. However, they may suffer in silence without anyone noticing.

Therefore, you have to go beyond superficiality and observe their behavior at close range. If you have any concerns, you can reach out to someone who knows them better and cares about their wellbeing. Instead of leaving them to their mental wars, get them help.

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, New Dimensions can help.  Our Online Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs are available to anyone who resides within the State of Texas, including Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, Austin, Lubbock, College Station, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo, and San Antonio.  We also have locations for in-person treatment at Katy, The Woodlands, and Houston, Texas.  To learn more about our programs, visit our website at or contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

16 March, 2021

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