Home > Mental health > Living with mental illness Updated 22 May 2014 Depression: do you know the signs? One of the key roles you can play in the health of someone who is depressed or suffers from anxiety is to make sure they get the help they need. Here's what you need to know. 0 Shutterstock Related Anger, irritability linked to more severe depression Similar rates of depression in both sexes Anxious people need more personal space Ask CyberShrink » Talk Heart to heart forum » 13 hidden signs of stress Regenerative medicine: replacing brain cells lost from stroke Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of well-being in which every individual realises their potential, copes with the life stress, works productively and contributes to their community.But not all of us are created to deal well with seemingly easy aspects of everyday life that may include, but are not limited to:Bereavement for the loss of a loved oneRelationship and work problemsHaving just had a baby (postnatal depression)Unemployment and financial woesAccepting your own or a loved one’s sexualityCrimeAnxiety and depression have become the most common mental health problems, both globally and in South Africa. And while the two may seem like opposites, they often go together and more than half of people diagnosed with depression also have anxiety.But are you able to spot the signs when depression and anxiety take hold? DepressionIt is typically characterised by low self-esteem, low mood and loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. When someone is depressed they will display on or more of the following symptoms:Irritability or anxietyShifts in appetite and weight (too much or too little)Sleep disorders, whether too much or too littleConstant fatigue and loss of energyPhysical symptoms that may include gastrointestinal problems, chronic pain, headaches etc.Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, sadness or low of self-worthDifficulty thinking, memory loss, poor concentration, difficulty making decisionsThoughts of death or suicideAnxietyIt is considered a normal reaction to stress, and it can serve as a prompt to deal with difficult situations. However, when it becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder. When someone is anxious they will display on or more of the following symptoms:Fatigue and headachesMuscle tension and muscle achesDifficulty swallowingTrembling and twitchingIrritabilitySweating and hot flashesOnce you have identified one or more of the symptoms, you can help by:Being SupportiveYour support is invaluable, but the affected person must be willing to get better.CommunicatingYou can do this by talking to the affected person about how they’re feeling.Showing EmpathyTry to understand and share the other person’s feelings and experiences. Promote a healthy lifestyleYou can help them cook healthy meals or encourage them to exercise and get out.Really listeningMost depressed people just want someone to listen to them. Educating yourselfVisit the clinic, doctor or counselor with the person and read more about their illness. Being accommodatingDon’t exclude the affected person from important matters or discussions.Measuring your expectationsDon’t expect the person to just "snap out of it".One of the key roles you can play in the health of someone who is depressed or suffers from anxiety is to make sure they get the help they need. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one and need help, speak to a trained counsellor.(Photo of depressed woman from Shutterstock) Hayden Horner NEXT ON HEALTH24X October is Mental Health Awareness Month in South Africa 2016-10-12 16:21 More: Mental healthLiving with mental illness advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Lifestyle 5 reasons volunteering is healthy Medical 40% of asthmatic kids do not know what an inhaler is Mental health When oxygen runs low, the naked mole-rat finds a way Medical Immune therapy shows early promise against MS Lifestyle Pilates or cardio – which is best? Lifestyle At what age can kids safely cross the street? From our sponsors K Naomi takes a stand and shows women how to fight back WIN a R2000 Skin Renewal voucher! Constipation in women SA's old diesel vehicles continue to fuel allergies Live healthier Are you sure? » Aid your digestion What are digestive disorders? Are you really constipated? Many people think that if they do not have two or more bowel movements every single day of their lives they are constipated. This is patently not true, writes DietDoc. True of False? » SEE: How anaphylactic shock affects your body Stop believing these 10 allergy myths Do you still believe that hay fever is caused by hay? Or that food allergies are really common? No, and no again. We bust 10 myths about allergies.