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  • Writer's pictureGaynor Lowndes

How To Identify If A Client Is Depressed And What To Do About It

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:

Behavioural changes

- 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 warning sign. - 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. Physical changes - 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 inactivity. - 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.


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