We all want to help the people around us. The problem is that we all too easily get lost in the daily challenges of our own lives that often miss the signs that someone we know is struggling with a hidden problem. Being a good friend, partner, or family member is a lot more difficult when the people around us are keeping their problems to themselves, and knowing who needs help and knowing how to help them is much more difficult than it should be. Identifying that someone you know may be struggling with life is the first step to helping them overcome the challenges that they are facing. Here are some of the most common issues, and how to spot the signs.
The Loneliness of Depression
Depression is very common, and is a lot more serious than ‘just feeling a bit sad’. It’s an invasive affliction that affects every area of a person’s life, and there is no easy fix. Learning to recognize the more common signifiers of depression is also difficult, largely due to the secrecy that the sufferer feels is necessary. However, if someone that you know has become much more withdrawn either at home or in terms of attending social activities, that’s always an indication that something is wrong. Look for sudden changes in confidence, and any alteration in dietary behavior as well.
The High-Functioning Addict
Not all addicts are homeless, and many are perfectly capable of carrying on their home and work lives without anybody even noticing that they are using illicit substances. These days you can get instant tests that reveal addictive substances, but you can hardly force someone to use them! Somebody that appears to be living a successful, satisfactory life may still be dealing with drug withdrawal symptoms, so it is important not to judge a book by its cover. It’s not easy to spot the signs that you’re living with a high-functioning addict. The strategies that they use to hide and conceal their behavior makes it even more difficult. These tactics include normalization, where the addict justifies their drug use by claiming to feel under the weather or stressed. Lying is also very common, so once you start noticing patterns of excessive drug use, such as the signs of benzodiazepine addiction, you’ll find that the addict will construct grandiose stories to justify the changes in them that you have spotted. If you’re suspicious of their recent behavior, look for empty pill bottles in hidden places, or empty bottles of alcohol.
Spotting Cases of an Eating Disorder
There is a prevalence of people with eating disorders who feel shame at their actions. This is why depression and eating disorders often go hand in hand in a cycle of ever-increasing negativity. Learning to spot the signs of any eating disorder can be difficult, because sufferers often go to great lengths to hide their problem. However, it can be very difficult to completely hide evidence of binge-eating or excessive vomiting, so be aware of those examples. There is a long list of potential warning signs for eating disorders, so if you suspect that someone close to you is suffering, check to see if they need to talk.
Have you ever recognized someone in need?
Very often, simply being there for those that are suffering is enough to help matters. You may not be able to ‘fix’ someone, but being available to listen, or even just be there for a hug and some confirmation that the sufferer is loved, is enough to help allay their fears and concerns. Always seek professional advice if you suspect that someone is fighting one of the above issues.