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Signs of Depression?

After seeing my boyfriend last night and talking about why I haven't heard from him the last few days, he told me he's been "in a funk" and feeling kind of low. His parents have been separated for the last year and are now going through with a full divorce. His father had a talk with him about the divorce a couple days ago and as a result he's concerned his mother won't receive any benefits when the split becomes final. He described his feelings as "unmotivated," and "non-social," as in, he doesn't have a desire to go out and socialize; he'd prefer to stay in with his family and watch TV/lounge around. (Apparently he hasn't been in touch with his friends either and has been staying home in the evenings.) He didn't mention being sad or suicidal (thank God), but witnessing him as less than his usual excited, wise-cracking self is worrisome to me.

So, here are the facts:
1) He's 21 (which I know is a pivotal age for depression in men).
2) He told me he's had "phases" like this before, when he felt listless and unmotivated, but they passed on their own. (But he didn't put them into context, like if the low phases occurred after particular emotional upset, similar to what he's going through now--so I didn't know how to take it.)

I'm hoping this is simply a mild kind of "situational depression" in reaction to his parents' divorce, but I'd really like to hear some opinions. I myself am hyper-aware of depression, after watching my father's depression rip apart my parents' marriage as a child, and dealing with the emotional trauma of my father's attempted suicide when I was 16. So, here's to hoping I'm over-analyzing my boyfriend. Thank you in advance.
2 Responses
Avatar universal
We can suffer from "situational depression" where we are depressed for a short time due to a traumatic event in our lives.  This may be your boyfriend's case, and once the dust settles, he may be fine.  It sounds like he has has bouts of depression often, and he certainly has the symptoms now, and we don't know how long this will last.  It would be a good idea for him to talk to someone, like a therapist to help him deal with his parents divorce.  If it continues to interfere with his day to day life, he may need medication along with the therapy to get back to his old self.  But he needs to realize that avoiding you is not helping the relationship, and a therapist will tell him this.  It's wonderful that he has you and I hope he can get back on track real soon.  Best wishes.
Avatar universal
Thank you for the insight and advice. I guess my big question is how to differentiate between "normal" emotional strife and actual depression. I recall when my parents got divorced (when I was 19) I was periodically quite emotional--like the first Christmas my brother and I spent with just my dad, I ended up locking myself in the bathroom and crying for an hour. Of course I was upset, that was expected (by my parents and myself), but that doesn't mean I'm depressed. Also, it's "normal" for one's general mood to fluctuate somewhat; I know that as well. So what are the definitive symptoms of depression that I should be on the lookout for?

As for my boyfriend, he's a very emotional and sensitive person, but the problem that he doesn't show/talk about his emotions very often or in detail. I think growing up in a turbulent household prevented him from opening up about his feelings as he should have and he's developed a habit of "bottling" them instead. So, I'm going to try to get him to open up to me first before I suggest he goes to a therapist (which may intimidate him). Also, I want to monitor how long this "funk" lasts.

Thank you!
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