How to Tell If Someone is Depressed by Their Eyes: Hidden Signs of Depression

In the future, will one look in the eyes be enough to diagnose depression? It’s not quite that simple. Then how to tell if someone is depressed by their eyes? In a recent study, the drive disorder of depressed people could actually be detected by looking at the pupil. The pupil reaction can provide information about whether a person is seriously ill with depression or not. Our eyes are the window to the soul. And there is indeed a lot of truth in this saying. 

What Do Depressed Eyes Look Like – Scientific Explanation 

Depressed by Their Eyes

A cardinal symptom of depression is that those affected no longer feel like doing anything. In extreme cases, they are even completely apathetic. This listlessness can be objectively detected in the brain because neuronal signals change there. In order to record these, however, a complex examination, namely magnetic resonance imaging, is required.

To describe sad eyes, let’s just take a look at a scientific experiment. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Psychiatry are now in the process of finding a simpler marker for drive and thus also for depression – pupil width. In people with healthy mental health, the pupil dilates in anticipation of a reward (or in fear of a loss). The researchers used 46 severely depressed and 25 mentally healthy people to test whether this reaction is possibly impaired in depressed people.

The test persons completed an easy game in the magnetic resonance tomography in which the reward was some money. To do this, they put each subject into the tube of a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Inside, they took part in a game in which they could win small amounts of money. At the same time, brain activity and pupil width were measured.

In the healthy subjects, the pupils dilated each time they were about to win. In addition, activity increased in the brain regions responsible for the drive. In depressed people, it was different. When the depression was significantly severe, more symptoms were present. The smaller the dilation of the pupils was, while at the same time, the activity of the drive center was also reduced.

So, the reward was not leading to the exact behavioral activation in severely depressed patients as in people with healthy mental health conditions. The nervous system of a person suffering from depression can activate less strongly even with a certain positive assumption than in a healthy person.

How to Tell If Someone is Depressed by Their Eyes – Is it Possible. 

The first thing is that it is not certain what depressed people’s eyes look like. Therefore, you cannot describe a depressed person’s eyes or depression eye contact in general. Therefore, as described above, measuring depression through eyes is not impossible. At least the diagnostic and statistical manual example given above proves that. But measuring pupil width is not easy.

For one thing, the subjects have to hold particularly still for it, and for another, the changes are in minimal ranges. Nevertheless, the researchers hope to develop a clinical test that will improve the diagnosis of depression. 

The severity of the depression could also be detected from the pupils. It might also be possible to determine more objectively whether a person is responding to antidepressant medication. However, these results would have to be confirmed in a larger group of patients before being used clinically. In this way, the scientists were able to demonstrate for the first time the connection between pupil dilation in response to an expected reward and the severity of depression.

The researchers suspect that there is a physiological system behind this that can partly explain the often-reported drive disorder in patients.

The new research results could improve the diagnosis and treatment of depression in the future. In the future, both will no longer be based exclusively on the patients’ statements but will also be biologically justifiable. In this way, depression could be diagnosed on a more well-founded basis than before. Therefore, drug therapy could be adapted more individually.

How to recognize major depression

A depressed state, if it continues for a long time, can speak of one of the most common diseases of the 21st century – depression.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people are affected with mental depression over the world. Depression is a major cause of disability and makes a significant “contribution” to the global burden of disease. Depressive disorders are common to people of all ages. Behind this diagnosis, there can be several psychological problems that the person may not be aware of, so it is not so easy to recognize hidden depression.

However, it is possible to identify a number of noticeable external depression symptoms. Procrastination, changes in appearance and neglect, isolation, irritability, anxiety. It is worth understanding that the presence of these signs does not necessarily indicate bipolar disorder. They often indicate a person’s emotional burnout.

From a medical point of view, the state of major depression or bipolar disorder implies a persistent change in mood, which does not depend on external factors. In other words, life can run its course, both good and bad events can occur in it, but a person’s emotional state remains low. In this case, doctors suspect he has a depressive or emotional neurotic disorder.

“When for a long time there is so much less strength that you cannot move an arm or a leg when there are heavy worries inside, and life is meaningless, and you want to leave it – it is depression.” 

According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression is a common and serious medical illness of how you feel. When something just happened temporarily – the break-up with a loved one, problems at work – this is not depression.

Depression Symptoms: How to Detect Mental Health Issues

In order to diagnose mental illness like depression, you need a triad of the main symptoms of depression. These are-

  • A lowered mood 
  • Thought of depression and 
  • Physical lethargy

It is important to understand that a situational decrease in mood can be in any person. In order to diagnose the disease, you need to be in this state for at least 2 weeks.

The hereditary factor is responsible for up to 50% of all cases of depression. This is a proven fact. Today, two main mutations have been described that cause a predisposition to depression: 

  • those that block the production of serotonin in sufficient quantities and 
  • those that disrupt the serotonin receptors in the body.

Mental Disorders Hidden Symptoms

Unlike overt depression, which is expressed by classical symptoms (decreased mood, apathy, impaired motor activity, etc.), latent depression manifests itself more at the bodily.

 The most common hidden signs of depression include- 

  • Physical symptoms like pain in different parts of the body, 
  • Anxiety disorder, 
  • Obsessions, 
  • Apathy, 
  • Sleep and appetite disorders,
  • Weight gain
  • Feelings of hopelessness. 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Substance abuse

When depression is masked, a person complains not about his mood but about his physical condition.

 For example, a depressed person will experience shortness of breath, palpitations, pain in the stomach or joints. He or she goes to a therapist or narrow specialist to complain about his well-being. But the diagnosis does not reveal any objective reasons for his complaints. This is due to the fact that depressive disorder is not just a mood disorder. It is a systemic disorder in the regulation of real feelings, thinking, and functioning of virtually all internal organs.

Doctors explain that brain zones that regulate emotions, closely connected to the autonomic nervous system. Its task is to adapt the body’s work to the peculiarities of a particular situation. It is responsible for the heartbeat, respiratory rate, bowel function, sexual organs, sweating function, etc. This is fashionably called the “depression trap.” 

 It is not the patient’s mood but physical ailments, pain symptoms, digestive disorders, etc., that are at the forefront of the patient’s suffering. Such depressions are called larvae (lat. larva – mask) or masked. It requires the prescription of antidepressants and psychotherapy in the first place rather than general therapeutic treatment. The quality of treatment will directly depend on the stage at which depression can be recognized.


 There are two basic methods for treating latent depression – 

  • Psychopharmacotherapy (antidepressants, nootropics, neuroleptics, etc.) 
  • Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, Gestalt therapy, hypnosis, etc.)

Patients often plan their own treatment based on stories from the Internet. It is important to understand that there cannot be a unified treatment regimen. Each case is considered by the doctor individually, just as therapy is selected.

 Treatment for depression lasts quite a long time: from several months to a year and a half.

With a severe degree of depression, the patient may be placed in a hospital. In a milder case, the patient is treated as an outpatient while remaining socially active and able to work. The doctor observes the patient’s condition and, if necessary, adjusts the treatment regimen.

When To Go To A Mental Health Professional?

Mental Health Professional

However, the discovery of a gene mutation does not mean that it necessarily manifests itself in a severe form of depression, which will require professional help.

When you have the warning signs described above, besides getting emotional support from family members, you have to go to the professionals. Only a psychiatrist can recognize hidden depression and provide medical advice. This is often masquerading as other illnesses to distinguish it from the usual fatigue and moping. And only he can pick up and prescribe the correct course of treatment and antidepressants.

Do not get addicted to substance abuse. Talk to your friends and family members. Go to the doctor when the bad mood, poor sleep, trouble concentrating and appetite continue for more than 2 weeks. The earlier the diagnosis of depression is made and the correct treatment prescribed, the sooner the person will cope with this mental illness. Then the person returns to a full and high-quality life.

Final Thoughts

For your interest to know how to tell if someone is depressed by their eyes, you may have already got the answer that it is not that simple. When you see sad-looking eyes in someone, that dull eyes of unhappiness do not necessarily mean that the person is depressed. It is possible that the person is having other mental health issues. Only a mental health professional can detect and treat depression in an inappropriate way. So, if you think that someone close to you is having severe depression, please take help from professionals. 

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