Several weeks ago, Sophie Grégoire had a chat with award-winning singer-songwriter, Serena Ryder, on her mental well-being video series, It’s OK To Be Not OK. They discussed the topic of depression, anxiety, and healing, as at just 13-years old, Ryder experienced severe depression. She recalls not having anyone to talk to about it, given the level of stigma present during that time. She told Grégoire what she learned from that experience and shared how important it is for us to become aware of how we talk to ourselves in our lowest moments.

Hilary Freeman is an expert counsellor who has helped a range of individuals with stress management and relationship matters. We chat with her to see how to spot the signs of someone who’s having difficulty with their mental health. As noticing a mental wound may not be as obvious as a physical one, here are the five signs to spot when someone is struggling with their mental health.

Avoiding social contact

Self-isolation has a way of making people feel lonely, which can lead to deep depression. If someone keeps cancelling plans and feels relieved by it, it can mean that they are anxious about social interaction. This can be caused by losing a job or loved one or even feeling the psychological disadvantages of social media. According to Freeman, it’s important for us to have a relationship with other people. We need outside conversations to give us a better perspective on life. This can be done by staying connected, in-person or through our cellular device which can maintain healthy habits socially.

A lack of focus

This is known to be one of the most challenging phases of depression. If you notice someone having more difficulty concentrating, that means they may no longer see the point of getting things done. According to Freeman, lacking more focus than usual could also be the cause of personal circumstances. Such as moving somewhere new and feeling anxious about the thought of meeting new people. Writing a to-do list and embedding healthy routines and habits are some of the ways you can maintain concentration and feel good about it too.

Crying more than usual

Though crying is healthy in a general sense. If you spot someone crying more than usual, this can actually be a sign of depression and anxiety. You’ll also notice that they may no longer take pleasure in what used to make them happy. They have less energy than before, experience feelings of hopelessness, or even cry over small things and have trouble stopping their tears. Focusing on slow breathing, relaxing your facial muscles, and thinking about something repetitive like a poem or a song is only a few of the many ways that can help in the long run.

A lack of sleep

When someone is exhausted, they’ll find it harder to fight against depression. According to Very Well Mind, around 80 percent of people who are depressed can’t sleep. This can become a vicious cycle for those experiencing it, as depressed feelings are usually the main reason for their nights of unrest. Some way to deter this is to spend some time under the sun. It’s proven to aid sleep quality and can put you in a better mood as you’d be well-rested. Adding in meditation and relaxation exercises before bed can also help too.

A lack of optimism

Correction, a certain amount of pessimism is okay to have in life. But a significant amount could actually lead you towards depression. Being negative and depressed are similar in ways they both experience prolonged feelings of gloom. When someone is a little too negative, they are actually leaving out a lot of dopamine and serotonin in their system, the happy chemicals. Compassionately, several unfortunate life events do contribute to pessimism, like stress or coming from a negative upbringing. According to Freeman, unhealed trauma and stressful events are what mainly lead to significant levels of negativity. That’s why having a strong support system and seeking professional help are encouraged.