Depression has many faces. What are the signs?

My son rarely looked sad

We are often conditioned to look for the sad person when we think of depression. The above picture is what I saw, a happy-go-lucky kid with a revolving door of friends. When we finally got a depression diagnosis for Charles after a psychological evaluation I was shocked. I had thought about it but he did not seem to fit the criteria I had been reading. People rarely do.

Charles would live with untreated depression, become addicted to heroin and die by suicide.

Men who live with depression are often irritable and angry during a depressive episode. (Women can be as well.) Others are anxious and appear unmotivated. So there are many faces of depression other than sadness– like lethargy and lack of energy.

Others ghost you. You might take it personally but what is really going on is that the person is struggling and feels shame for not being “happy.”

If we are to prevent things like addiction or death by suicide and other crisis situations we need to move upstream and recognize early warning signs.

What signs did my son, Charles show?

> Anxiety

> Intense mood swings

> Frequent trips to the school nurse and to the doctor often with what seemed to be “phantom” symptoms like upset stomach, muscle aches, and headaches which were very real symptoms that were the result of stress and muscle tightening

> Charles caught every cold or virus. Depression lowers your immunity and therefore many who live with it catch a lot of illnesses.

> He was cavalier about life taking unnecessary and life-threatening risks. (Not exactly the same as a thrill seeker.)

> Instead of isolating as most do, he did the opposite and surrounded himself with friends constantly because he was afraid of what he would do to himself if left alone. I didn’t find this out until after his death.

>His sleep was poor and he often fell asleep in class. (Charles had a sleep disorder called DSPS, Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome starting at the age of 2.)

> His grades dropped

> His friends changed

> He started drinking and drugging despite knowing the risks (he didn’t care). It was his way of numbing the pain

> He talked a lot about death and made jokes about suicide and depression

> He was intuitive and a deep thinker and feeler. Things over which he had no control like a rap star’s death would unsettle him for months.

> He talked about some of the symptoms of depression in school papers and in the songs he wrote

Those are the signs I can remember today and I know there were more. Signs of depression are not just sadness and sometimes a person you know who is depressed won’t show that sign at all. My son wore the mask of a clown to hide it.

If you notice any of these signs in yourself, a co-worker, a friend, or a loved one, don’t take it to mean they are hypochondriacs or just difficult people. They may be suffering so try a dose of kindness even in the face of aggression or anger. You may be surprised by their response of remorse. and appreciate your listening without fixing or offering solutions.

Connect with those you love. Ask if they want to talk and make sure you really listen. Without judging. Without shaming.

Published by

AnneMoss Rogers

AnneMoss Rogers is a mental health and suicide education expert, mental health speaker, suicide prevention trainer and consultant. She is author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW. She raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost her younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. She is a motivational speaker who empowers by educating and provides life saving strategies and emotionally healthy coping skills. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now that's the legacy she carries forward in her son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website.

16 thoughts on “Depression has many faces. What are the signs?”

  1. “Just because I’m smiling on the outside, doesn’t mean I’m smiling on the inside.” For as long as I can remember I have wore a mask & when I did have the courage to say “I think I have depression.” All I got was “everyone feels depressed sometimes.” I wish I didn’t have to constantly hide & pretend that I’m ok when I’m not, it’s so exhausting!

      1. Thanks hun! But just so you know I would understand if there were times you felt ‘triggered’ & that you needed to step back, your mental health matters & it’s totally ok to take some time out for yourself 🤗❤️

          1. Self-care is so important in promoting healthy mental health, Anne Moss, I’m so glad that you listen to how you feel & do what you need to in order to look after yourself!

  2. Anne Moss, I continue to be amazed at your ability to get to the heart of mental illness and all its disorders. After the “death by suicide” of our first borne Adam Paul Tilton, my wife, daughter, and myself went through a time of withdraw and isolation from our church family, our community, friends and family, all of which only added to our already fragile frame of mind. As a Minister, I found myself distancing myself from God who I had given my life, the life of my family, our calling to the ministry, even our ability to pray. Grief and Trauma were are triggers, but we learned much later that we were experiencing PTSD or Clinical Depression. Now I begin to understand that Depression is physical, psychological, spiritual, and can lead to a nervous breakdown, which left our family emotionally drained, and this broken and helpless father and minister in total disbelief. Today our family has been reconciled and restored to Mental Wellness, to our faith in our loving God, and to our mission field of Mental Wellness, Suicide Prevention, and Community Outreach. Anne Moss, already you have provided more heartfelt counseling than many of the High Price Agencies’. Our prayers and support of your ministry and good works continues to spread the word. Andy Tilton-Adam’s Story-A Mental Wellness Ministry

    1. Your comments wow. Always so thought provoking and deep. And this “As a Minister, I found myself distancing myself from God who I had given my life, the life of my family, our calling to the ministry, even our ability to pray. Grief and Trauma were are triggers, but we learned much later that we were experiencing PTSD or Clinical Depression.” That’s emotionally naked Rev Tilton.

      Thank you for showing that your came around to your faith in time and restored it and how.

  3. Many of those applied to Whitten and many apply to me. I now spend 70% of my time alone.
    The sad thing is that both of us were/are under a doc’s care and on medication. Not sure what the answer is?!

      1. Just saw this – I do my best. My husband travels for work and gone quite a bit. I think my blog is in some ways an outgrowth of being alone. I have always recharged alone, so maybe it’s just my nature. I have lots of projects, hobbies and interests that are done alone. Who knows?

        1. And you have a knack for making things so lovely and a lot of people find comfort in that. It is a way of feeling good and a healthy way to work through so many things. By sharing that part of you, other women have found comfort in creative pursuits and routines. You found your peeps although it’s more that they have now found you!

  4. Another beautifully written post with the potential to save lives. I wanted to let you know that I still follow you and am in awe of your journey! I gave a copy of your book to a friend whose son recently died by suicide, and she now follows you as well.

    1. Joanne- It’s great to hear from you. Thank you so much for being the caring friend you are and supporting a friend during a difficult time. You obviously know you can’t fix it and that showing up counts.

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