How do I know if I am depressed?

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Health Assured team

27 September 2023

We’ve all experienced low mood swings on occasion. Some of us experience depression in our daily lives which intensifies the feeling of helplessness and isolation. It can vary on the severity scale of low to high levels but how do you answer the difficult question of, am I depressed or just sad?

Employers’ responsibilities

Employers should be aware of the signs to spot if their employees are experiencing symptoms and provide them with effective support. This is especially important as work can make the problem worse if not given the right help, negatively affecting the employee and business.

Are you left wondering; how can I help someone with depression in the workplace? Employers should not feel like they are required to be an in-house therapist for their employees. However, a basic understanding of the disorder is the first and best step in supporting your workforce and knowing if someone may be showing signs of depression. That’s why many organisations have turned to our Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) for mental health support.

Find out more about EAP’s

Signs and symptoms of depression

Depression can manifest in many ways, and we can see this through three main categories, psychological, physical, and social. Some signs are easier to spot in yourself, although some can be more easily spotted by colleagues, family, or friends.

Psychological symptoms

Psychological symptoms are the most discussed but can be the hardest to spot in colleagues, family, and friends. Despite this, psychological symptoms are often overlooked and can worsen all aspects of life if left untreated, including work.

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Continuous feelings of hopelessness, insignificance, or guilt
  • No drive to take part in your hobbies or interests
  • Sadness and feeling tearful
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Perpetual low moods for two weeks or more
  • Feelings of irritable or intolerant of others
  • Having no motivation or interest in doing things
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Not getting enjoyment out of life

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms are easier to recognise, although can still be difficult to distinguish. Family, friends, and colleagues may see these signs before you do.

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Lack of physical energy
  • A change in appetite or weight
  • Constipation
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Moving or speaking slower than normal
  • Interrupted sleep
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Social Symptoms

Social symptoms of depression are key identifiers for colleagues, family, and friends to spot depression in their counterparts.

Social symptoms include:

  • Avoiding social contact with friends, colleagues, and family
  • Taking part in fewer activities
  • Avoiding hobbies and interests
  • Experiencing difficulties at home and/or work
  • Inability to do your job properly

If you are experiencing more than a handful of the above symptoms, most of the day, every day, the recommendation is to speak to your GP for guidance.

All the above symptoms can be scary and hard to understand, especially on your own, so make sure you are talking to trusted family members or friends. Research into depression is key so you can get a better understanding but try to stick to credited websites, such as Health Assured and the NHS. Speak to your GP about advice and remember that you are not alone in these feelings.

Quiz: Am I Depressed?

If you are worried about your symptoms, ask yourself the following questions and use the scale method of 1 to 10. Try to be as honest as possible.


10 = overwhelmingly yes

5 = indifferent

1 = strong no

  1. Am avoiding social connections with friends and work colleagues?
  2. Have I lost motivation for hobbies that I once loved and enjoyed?
  3. Have I been experiencing low moods for more than 2 weeks?
  4. Do I typically react negatively (anger, sadness) when confronted with my thoughts and feelings?
  5. Do I have a lack of energy most days of the week? (Over five)
  6. Do I have disrupted sleep more than three times a night?
  7. Do I have suicidal thoughts often?

If you scored mostly 7 to 10 the strong recommendation would be to talk to your GP for advice. Ask about counselling options and if that would be the best fit for you. Speak to trusted friends and family that can help you along.

If you scored mostly 6 to 4 the recommendation would be to monitor your moods. Keep a diary, chat with trusted friends and family, get more physical exercise, and do more things you love. Book an appointment with your GP to see if they have any tips to improve your low mood.

If you scored 3 or below, seek advice and knowledge of depression to get a better understanding. Or chat with trusted family and friends for support and guidance, sometimes they may even relate.

How can you support your employees mental health?

Our Employee Assistance Programme provides guidance and supports your employees with their mental health in the workplace and in life. We can help you create a safe, productive workspace that supports all.

We support employees mental wellbeing with any problems they might be facing in their professional or personal lives with our 24-hour counselling helpline.

To find out more about how an Employee Assistance Programme can help your organisation, contact us today and speak to one of our wellbeing specialist.

Find out more about EAPs



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