Seven Tell-Tale Signs of Depression in a Friend or Loved One


This post has been written to assist the reader in observing signs of depression in a friend or loved one.

How to Tell if  Somone is Depressed: A Quick Story

A young couple I have treated for some time came into my office recently. Lisa was angry with Justin because he had been (in her opinion) distant and unloving towards her in recent weeks. No matter how hard she tried to please him, nothing seemed to work, and she began to wonder whether he had lost interest in her. After I asked Justin certain key questions, it became clear that he had gradually become depressed and, in doing so, had lost interest in pretty much everything that had previously given him pleasure – including Lisa. Once Justin’s depression was adequately treated, he became the warm, loving and attentive man with whom Lisa had fallen in love and chosen to spend her life with.

There are some important lessons to this story.

DepressionFirst, depression is not always obvious. It can masquerade as something else (in this case, lack of interest in your partner).

Second, it is valuable for friends or loved ones to learn the tell-tale signs of depression so that they can offer help as early in the process as possible because depression is a painful condition, both for the person suffering from it and his or her loved ones.

So, here are seven tell-tale signs of depression that will help you determine if your friend or loved-one is developing depression:

1. Loss of interest in things that were previously pleasurable

Sometimes this loss of pleasure – also known as anhedonia – may not be complete. So your loved one may gravitate only to those things that are easily enjoyed and require the least amount of effort, such as playing video-games, sitting in front of the TV or surfing the Web. This readily leads to thoughts or comments such as “You have plenty of time and interest in surfing the Web, but not when it comes to spending quality time with me.” Engaging with another person and meeting that person’s needs require more effort than surfing the Web and therefore may be an early sign of depression.

2. Sleep difficulties

This may take the form of trouble falling asleep or waking up during the night or the early hours of the morning. You may find your loved one in another room, trying to while away the time. This may disrupt your own sleep and may feel like abandonment, leading you to say things like, “Not only isn’t he/she available for me during the day but even at night.” Again, it’s important not to take the symptom personally, but recognize it for what it is.

3. Eating changes

Gaining-weightToo little or too much eating–with corresponding weight changes in the expected direction. A husband (for example) can readily become angry with his wife and blame her for eating too much and gaining weight, misinterpreting the symptom as a sign that she no longer cares as much about their intimate life and is therefore “letting herself go.”

4. Anger and irritability

A depressed person struggles to get through the day. Ordinary obstacles and challenges become more difficult and can lead to frustration and the feelings that go along with that. This is another tell-tale sign of depression that is easy to take personally.

5. Expressing negative thoughts

You might feel enthusiastic about something and your friend or loved one might come back with a “downer” of a response, such as “I don’t think that will amount to anything,” or “What does it matter? It makes no difference.” Such negative thoughts are a cardinal symptom of depression, yet sometimes they feel almost calculated to throw a dampener on things. The depressed person is not trying to make life difficult for others even though that is often the effect of depressive thoughts and utterances.

6. Suicidal ideas

These may take a passive form such as, “I don’t care if I live or die” or a more active form, such as “Sometimes I feel like driving the car off the road.” Always take such statements very seriously. There is a common myth that if a person is really suicidal, they don’t tell others about it; they do it. By this erroneous logic, if the person is telling you about it, you might mistakenly conclude that they won’t actually do it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only are such statements key elements of depression (which warrants treatment in its own right), but they suggest that such treatment is urgent.

7. Loss of confidence in oneself

Loss of confidence in oneself is a sign of depression. Depressed people feel poorly about themselves and their future. If your friend or loved one is usually more self-confident and optimistic and this then changes suspect depression.

What to do if someone I know is depressed?

Now that you have found out how to tell if someone is depressed, I wanted to offer some things you can do.

If you detect one or more of these signs in a friend or loved one, you may want to look up a more comprehensive list of symptoms for major depression in the standard manual for psychiatric conditions, the DSM-IV.

Once you suspect depression, do encourage your friend or loved one to seek consultation and treatment with a qualified person, not only for his or her sake but for yours. Sometimes it can also be helpful and comforting for you to offer to accompany the person to the consultation.

Wishing you Light and Transcendence,


I thought it might be helpful to include this 8-minute video, 11 Tips for Greater Happiness.

If you enjoyed this blog post you may wish to read:

23 Replies to “Seven Tell-Tale Signs of Depression in a Friend or Loved One”

  1. vinka mar says:

    me interesa recibir muestras de libros

  2. Henry McCurtis says:

    Great Blog Norm!!!

  3. C.Rajeev says:

    It is my view that places of worship like temples,churches,mosques,etc do have a code of conduct, to maintain a holistic atmosphere…Everyone is well aware that these places are meant only for praying to God…

    Such a vibrant, and holistic atmosphere is not normally experienced in many other places..

    That is why it is very important to select the place of practicing Meditation in a very conducive atmosphere..If you start meditating in a cinema theater, you will not be able to dive within easily…

    If someone scolds you with harsh words, your mind instantly feels depressed…When a happy incident happens in your life, you feel mentally vibrant and energetic —This is an example of how the external stimuli influences the Inner Mind of an individual…


  4. Angel of music says:

    Thank you! This has helped me figure out what’s wrong with my friend, Claire. She is sad, tired, not eating lunch, stressed about everything, annoyned with everyone, crying all the time, and thinking suicidal thoughts! This helped me! Now, she probably has depression, and I hopefully can help her! Thank you! *hugs*

    1. Ilaena says:

      I feel you. My friend since 3rd grade have been suffering till 2nd semester in 4th grade, but now I can help him. Thank you.

  5. JerilynBourne says:

    Hi it’s me, I am also visiting this website regularly, this site is truly nice and the visitors are genuinely sharing good thoughts.

  6. TravisAshbolt says:

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  7. Ninja says:

    Thanks, this helped me help a friend who has been suffering for 2 years, if only I had identified it sooner.

  8. anon. says:

    Great blog !

  9. Vicky says:

    Very helpful.
    Thank you

  10. Shikha says:


  11. Random person says:

    Thank you! Because of this I have been able to diagnose my friend with depression and get her the help she needs. I wish I could thank you in a bigger way?

  12. UrMomIsACowButItsFineBecauseSoAmI says:

    This helped me figure out if someone really close to me has depression and then I asked them and they said yes, they didn’t tell me before but after I told them I went on this site they said yes.

  13. Marilyn says:

    You forgot one
    Always pretending to be happy when something is wrong or not knowing how to react to such questions like are you ok they are not going to say ok its im fine or i guess others forget how to feel and kbow how to act when they’re being told something whether they sold be happy or sad.

  14. Shubham says:

    Nice blog. This had provided me with basics for a person to suffer from depression.

  15. Shubham says:

    Nice blog brdr. This had provided me with basics for a person to suffer from depression. Keep posting such blogs.

  16. Karoline says:

    I can relate to all of these.

  17. Jeffery says:

    Thanks for the help, I’m trying to figure out if my best friend is depressed

    1. Kaylynn says:

      I’m only a teenager and I’ve been going through a lot of things lately, including the death of my my grandpa in January who I’d been very close to. My parents don’t seem to see that I’m struggling. My friends have told me I need help, but I don’t know how to talk to my parents about it because I fear they’ll just lecture me about how “other people are actually depressed” or “you just want attention.” Is anyone willing to help me with some conversation starters or ideas about discussing it with my parents? Thanks so much!

  18. Asia says:

    Thanks, this page was so helpful that I now know that my best friend is depressed

  19. Unknown says:

    Thanks, I suspected for a bit that my brother was depressed, he’s not eating, doesn’t seem to want to do anything and he never sleeps. This kind of confirms it.

  20. mari says:

    thanks my friend is depressed but I didn’t know for sure until I read this

  21. Luke Smith says:

    It’s great that you mentioned how depression is not always obvious. We’ve been observing my older sister for quite a while now and we think she has depression. We want to help her out, so we are thinking of booking depression therapy for her.


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