Depression is a serious and a common illness, but one which often goes unrecognised. Even when it
is recognised, it is often not given the attention it deserves. But depression is serious enough that it
can affect a person’s behaviour, feelings, thoughts and physical being.
There are a number of symptoms that indicate that a person has depression, but the way
depression manifests itself varies from one person to another, and those signs may keep changing
in the course of a person’s illness. As a caregiver, you should be able to recognise the symptoms of
depression and seek help for your client by reporting to your supervisor immediately. Some of the
symptoms to look out for are discussed below. However, you should note that generally speaking,
your client might be depressed if for more than two weeks he or she feels sad, miserable and down
most of the time or has lost pleasure or interest their usual activities.
On the other hand, it is important to bear in mind that the fact that your clients experience some of
these symptoms from time to time does not necessarily mean that they have depression, and
someone who has depression might also not manifest all those symptoms.
As a caregiver, your client may be dealing with depression if you notice the following:
Withdrawal: Your client could be depressed if s/he begins to keep to himself or herself.
Withdrawing from family members, relatives, close friends and society in general is a strong
Not getting things done: A depressed person gets overwhelmed by lethargy. Apart from not
getting things done at work or at school, a depressed person will also find it hard to perform
even mundane activities like getting out of bed, bathing and dressing.
Relying on alcohol and sedatives: When a depressed person feels overwhelmed and low,
s/he may try to self-medicate with alcohol or other substances to manage their condition.
Loss of appetite resulting in loss of weight: skipping meals or failing to eat altogether is
another sign someone could be depressed.
Lack of care in personal appearance: A depressed person will not care about their personal
appearance and may become untidy in the way they dress.
Loss of concentration.
Failing to do things they usually enjoy doing.
Tiredness: Someone with depression will feel tired and lethargic all the time.
Pain: They may also suffer from headaches and muscle pains. This is possibly linked to
Weight: Significant weight loss or weight gain could also indicate depression, but only when
it is accompanied by some of the other symptoms discussed here. Weight loss or gain on its
own is not indicative of depression.
Sleep problems: Insomnia is very common among depressed people, and so you might find
that a depressed client finds it difficult to sleep.
A depressed person might also feel sad, overwhelmed and guilty
Lacking in confidence, feeling disappointed and frustrated
If you identify some or all of these symptoms in your clients, notify your supervisor immediately
and they will take the appropriate steps to help the client. Do not ignore symptoms and do not try
to prescribe any medication or course of action for the client on your own.