Does someone you love suffer from depression?

What are the tell-tale signs that a person needs medical consultation?

Disturbed sleeping patterns, eating habits, suicidal thoughts and psychotic episodes — while a person suffering from depression would rarely seek help, there are several ways in which a person’s family and loved ones can identify that he or she is suffering from depression.

According to Dr Raad Al Khaiat, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Head of Department at Al Amal Psychiatric Hospital, Dubai, a person’s family is best placed to identify signs of depression and seek immediate medical assistance.

“The person withdraws from the world and any social interaction,” Dr Al Khaiat said.

They are unable to play their role in the family as well, so as a father, brother, wife or mother the person will not be able to fulfil their role in the family. They will also avoid going out for social events like parties or get-togethers and their performance at work or school significantly reduces.

Suicidal thoughts are common in patients with depression, so any suicidal attempt should immediately raise a red flag. However, it is important to differentiate between suicidal attempts and self-harm.

“Some people harm themselves, like cutting wrist or arm with a blade. But they have no intent of killing themselves. Patients suffering from depression commit actual suicidal acts with the real intention to kill themselves.

“The problem of suicides is very important, especially nowadays considering the statistics. But families are often not aware of the underlying problem,” he said.

Another symptom is the presence of delusions or false beliefs, according to Dr Al Khaiat.

“We call them nihilistic delusions, where the person sometimes feels like he or she has no brain, or their intestines are going to disintegrate or sometimes a person believes, ‘I just don’t exist’,” he said.

Depression is also often coupled with anxiety and long-term anxiety can sometimes also be a trigger for depression.

If you know someone who has exhibited these symptoms, it is advised that they seek medical help at the earliest.

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