Depression is a very common difficulty that many people will face at some point in their lives, but talking about it can be difficult, not only for those who are experiencing it but also their concerned friends and family. Fortunately, depression can be treated in a variety of ways, and learning to recognize its signs and symptoms as well as ways to talk to people about it can help those people suffering with it find their way to treatment.
When you hear the word “depression,” an image may come to mind of someone moping around at home, likely in their pajamas, with a downcast attitude and little energy, spending most of their time not doing much of anything. While depression can look like this, it can also take many other forms. For example, someone may become more irritable or angry than usual, snapping at those around them and being easy to “set off.” There can also be physical symptoms present, such as aches and pains, digestive problems, or sexual dysfunctions. Knowing how to recognize depression, either in yourself or someone close to you, is very important—and potentially lifesaving. Common symptoms include:
· Feeling down and/or irritable for most of the day, nearly every day
· No longer seeming interested in things that used to be enjoyable, such as sports or hobbies
· Suddenly eating a lot more or a lot less, which may lead to a noticeable change in weight
· Sleeping a lot more or a lot less
· A change in activity level: feeling either slowed down or jumpy
· Fatigue and low energy that isn’t helped by sleeping
· Feeling guilty or worthless
· Difficulties concentrating or making decisions
· Physical problems such as headaches, sexual dysfunction, digestive problems
· Anger, irritability, and increased sensitivity to criticism
· An increase in reckless or risky behavior, such as unsafe sex, too much use of drugs and/or alcohol, gambling, etc.
· Thoughts of death or suicide
If you feel that you recognize these symptoms either in yourself or someone close to you, there are options for seeking help. At the LIU Brooklyn Psychological Services Center, we offer free and confidential counseling services that can help to alleviate the difficulties described above. We also offer referrals to other forms of treatment, as well as a range of assessments that can help to more fully understand a person experiencing these (and other) difficulties.
If you feel that a friend or someone close to you is experiencing these symptoms, it is also important to know how to talk to them. It can be very hard to know what to say, especially if you are worried that you may come across as critical or judgmental. Starting with simple observations can be helpful, by saying something such as “I’ve noticed you seem a little more tired these days. Is everything okay?” Remember that your job is not to diagnose your friend, but to be there for them as an empathetic, receptive, and supportive peer. If they seem receptive to suggestions, let them know that the Psych Services Center is always willing to talk to them. For more resources on how to talk to a friend about depression, you are welcome to schedule an appointment yourself at the PSC, or see https://headsupguys.org/for-supporters/provide-support/ for more information. This resource is specifically tailored towards men who are experiencing depression, as part of Theta Chi fraternity’s efforts toward suicide/depression awareness in men, but the support and tips can be applied to anyone. Don’t ever hesitate to contact the Psychological Services Center with any questions or if you would like more information. We are here for you.
(Please email PSC2021@liupsc.com for service requests. If this is an emergency, or you are feeling unsafe, please contact campus security at x1078 or call 911.)