Is your loved one in a rut, or is it depression?

We all lack motivation and zest from time to time, but if your loved one has seemed “meh” for a while now, more may be going on under the surface than you realize. It can be difficult to distinguish between depression and chafing at a routine that leaves one bored and unexcited. Being in a rut sometimes leads to depression, so it’s important to recognize the signs and understand ways you can help. If your friend or family member has been off lately, it’s worth taking a moment to see if they need support. Here are some signs to look out for and ways you can support someone in both situations:

Recognizing depression vs. a rut

Being in a rut can present differently for different people. Recognizing the signs of it can give you a leg up in helping your loved one avoid sliding into depression later on. If your loved one is very open, they may mention feeling like they’re spinning their wheels in life. If they tend to be more reserved with their emotions, you’ll have to pick up on the subtle signs yourself. If you witness your loved one in a routine that rarely varies, frequently at work for long hours, often feeling ‘too tired’ in their free time and acting ‘meh’ in general, it could be time for an honest conversation with them on how they are feeling about life. You may also notice your loved one taking less time for self-care, (not to be confused with a lack of care in hygiene, which is a sign of depression).

How to help your loved one step out of a rut

If you find your loved one is feeling a bit down and unmotivated, here are a few ways you can help:

When it’s more than a rut…

The following signs may mean that your loved one is experiencing more than a rut:

What if your friend or family member is depressed?

Depression can be a scary thing to deal with, especially with a loved one. It’s important to remember that people will not always recognize their own symptoms. Even if they have some idea that they may be depressed, they may try to brush off their feelings, or internalize it and reason with themselves on how to get better on their own.

You can be supportive by letting them know you’re there for them and willing to listen to them if they are ready to talk about their feelings. Offer positive reinforcements whenever you can; and if you’re not sure what to say, here are some helpful ideas from The Depression Project:

Consider professional advice

It is important that you and your loved one both understand that depression is a complex mental health illness that should be evaluated by a professional even if “it doesn’t seem that bad”. Help your loved one to understand that depression is treatable with a wide range of both medicinal and non-medicinal options, and that counseling with a licensed therapist is a great place to start.

Remember, counseling isn’t just for depression - therapy is extremely helpful for those who are struck in a rut as well. If you or your loved one are dealing with either situation, Medens Health is here to help with counseling and treatment options that fits all needs. Those in the California or Nevada areas can reach out to us online or call/text (833)624-5400.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, call the free suicide hotline 24/7 at 800-273-8255 or chat with someone at


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.