Depression is an isolating illness that affects more than 300 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, this number only includes people who are actually diagnosed. There are many others who suffer silently, choosing to not get help out of shame, pride or embarrassment – or perhaps they do not even realize they have a problem with depression. Some people who suffer from depression simply do not know how to express their emotions.
If you are concerned that your spouse is suffering from silent depression, there are several warning signs and behaviors you can watch for in your loved one. Keep in mind that different people display signs of depression differently so a person suffering from depression may have or all of the following signs.
Loss of Interest
It is common for people suffering from depression to lose interest in activities and things they once enjoyed, including relationships, hobbies, self-care, intellectual pursuits and even sex. This is likely due to the fact that depression takes up much of a person’s energy and time, making it difficult to carry on with daily life in general. Sufferers of depression may slowly begin dropping activities or interests from their lives, hoping that no one will notice.
Changes in Appetite or Weight
Depression can encompass every facet of a person’s life, even resulting in changes to their natural appetite. These changes can go in either direction: leading them to overeat while using food as a coping mechanism to deal with depressive symptoms, or causing a loss of appetite due to the lack of interest and energy to maintain their vitality. Depression can be linked to digestive issues that cannot be otherwise explained as well. Keep an eye out for appetite changes as well as uncharacteristic changes in weight.
Depression often ails its sufferers with overwhelming thought patterns and anxiety, which may lead to difficulty sleeping. Your spouse may develop insomnia, which can make it even more difficult to face the daily challenges of the illness. Depression can also cause excessive fatigue, causing your spouse to seemingly sleep all of the time. This too can cause your spouse to lack energy to deal with even the smallest details of life, which brings us to the next symptom.
Your spouse’s energy levels may be completely zapped. When a person suffers from depression, intrusive thoughts of despair and hopelessness coupled with poor appetite, sleep trouble and increased stress can cause life to be a daily battle. Getting out of bed every day may even seem like a marathon to your spouse.
Depression can bring extreme mood changes related to situational challenges. These changes can look different in different people but can look like anything from frequently shifting from feeling numb or empty to excessive aggressive or angry reactivity.
Feelings of Hopelessness
Many sufferers of depression are filled with an overwhelming sense that there is no hope for them to overcome their current suffering. They may be filled with feelings of shame, worthlessness, disappointment and even self-hate. These deep feelings can make it difficult to feel motivated to push forward through the darkness or to engage with life.
Substance abuse is common among those suffering with mental health disorders as they are at higher risk than the general population for developing addictions. Many turn to substance abuse to escape the painful reality they experience as a result of their mental illness but addiction can cause even more problems down the road. If your spouse is exhibiting signs of drug or alcohol abuse, silent depression may be at play. If you suspect your spouse is suffering from the combination of substance abuse and mental illness, treatment for co-occurring disorders is likely necessary.
Depression can be all-encompassing in the minds of its sufferers, making it critical that they receive the help they need. If your loved one exhibits any of the above signs, they may need to undergo treatment so they can regain their best quality of life. Silent depression is scary and your spouse may need a little help getting over the hurdle of recognizing or admitting they need help, which is where you may be able to help.
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