Depression and the risk of Suicide – What are the signs?
***DISCLAIMER**** If you believe even a little that you are experiencing depression or having thoughts of suicide please seek help immediately. YOU ARE NOT ALONE Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255. They are Available 24 hours every day. You can even use the link above and chat with them online if you don’t want to talk.
I know that many of you may have been shocked this week with the news of 2 celebrities taking their own lives. The deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain by way of suicide have seemed to take so many people by surprise, but have also brought about so much awareness about depression and the risk of suicide.
We all believe we have an idea of what we can do or say when it comes to a topic this serious. Everyone has an opinion (which they are entitled to) but the truth is we don’t know how to approach every situation because every one is different.
So let’s be open today and talk about depression, suicide, the signs you can look for, and what you can do if you may know someone who is showing these signs.
First let me be completely transparent……
A couple of months ago I was turned down for a promotion. It was a promotion I had been completely vetted for and just about everyone on my team thought that I would be next in line to get this job…..but that wasn’t the case and it hit me HARD y’all.
I had to visit my doctor more frequently to adjust the anti-depressants that I was already taking. My home and work life were severely impacted. There was one point that I didn’t leave the house for over a week except to go to my doctor’s appointments.
Even when the doctor asked “have you been really sad or depressed in the past few months” I just said “No I’ve been fine”. They believed me and let me go home with an updated prescription.
This prescription medicine I have been on for the past couple of years while dealing with anxiety due to a number of reasons. My marriage had completely fallen apart at one point, we were nearly homeless at another point, and I have been dealing with issues with the kids, family….YOU NAME IT and I probably had in some way dealt with it in the past couple of years.
But my doctor didn’t even spend an extra ten seconds to look me in my eye to see that I was completely lying about being depressed. If I was lying to my doctor, you know that I also must have been hiding all of this from my family and friends. Which brings us to our first topic:
Some signs of depression
Let’s be clear I am not a doctor. I am only writing this post from my point of view and from the research I have done.
There are many signs that your friend or loved one could be depressed or even approaching a state of depression. Here is a list of some signs I have personally experienced:
- Mood Swings
- Excessive Crying/Sadness
- Excessive Sleeping
- Change in diet
- Lack of motivation
I will go a little in depth on these signs as I have seen them. If you notice that you are experiencing these signs please seek help immediately. If you notice a friend experiencing some of these signs approach it lightly (which I will cover a bit more later in this post).
You may notice that someone has distanced themselves from friends or family. They may miss family dinners or outings with friends that they usually attend. This could be a sign that they feel alone or they just can’t relate to the surrounding happiness.
Some people may go from very happy one moment to very sad with no apparent triggers. They can’t seem to control the times when they are up and down, it just hits them and sometimes at the most inconvenient times.
There may be times when a person just can’t control their tears. I have personally experienced this and it is a horrible feeling. Nothing in particular would happen, I would just all of a sudden feel the need to cry. Then after crying, I didn’t necessarily feel better. I just felt drained….and so I would cry again, and again…until I found myself with a headache and swollen face.
Someone who is usually pretty high or even normal energy may sleep more often. The average adult needs about 7-9 hours of sleep (I know that probably seems impossible to some of you). If you find that you (or a loved one) is sleeping more than average, it may be a sign that they are depressed.
Change In Diet
You may notice you’re not as hungry or that you’re eating way more than usual. If you notice significant changes in your diet along with certain other signs, it could be an indicator that you’re in some way trying to deal with being depressed.
I am a highly emotional eater. When I am depressed I find comfort in food. I can tell, even when I am not paying attention, when I am eating to suppress hurt.
Lack of Motivation
This one can sometimes be harder to spot but can also be a big indicator that someone is deeply depressed. If you notice signs of someone who is usually pretty enthusiastic suddenly not wanting to do anything….They may be experiencing depression.
I had a friend tell me they knew I had to be going through something when I didn’t jump on top of an opportunity that I am super passionate about. At first, they joked about it but after a while, they knew that I was seriously depressed because it was something that I would usually be very excited to even talk about.
When I gave them the “yeah that’s cool” response they were like “oh no what’s up with you?” I didn’t even recognize how unmotivated I came across.
What to do if you see signs of depression
This will depend on whether you see signs in yourself or your friend.
If you see the signs personally….
If you see any of these signs in yourself PLEASE seek help. You may think you are in a position where you can just get through it, but you never know when you will get to that point where there seems to be no way out and you just don’t want to be here.
Don’t take that chance. Tell someone…..A doctor, a teacher, a friend or relative, even a support group that you may be a part of. At least let someone know that you are not in a good place. Someone that you trust of course……
If you see these signs in a friend
Be careful in your approach. They may already feel judged and you don’t want to depress them further.
Ask them questions and try to get them to talk about things that you know help them to feel better. When you are in a comfortable place gently let them know that you notice some signs. Tell them that you genuinely care for them and are just looking out for their well-being. Let them know you are there as a friend and whatever you talk about is between you.
Most importantly LET THEM KNOW THEY HAVE YOUR CONFIDENCE!
What not to do when you witness depression
If you witness it in yourself
- Don’t wait
- Don’t think of it as just a phase you will get over
- Don’t blame yourself
Act on these signs immediately if you see them. Don’t feel like you are strong and can just get through it. It is not your fault so don’t blame yourself. You will only make things worse.
If it is for someone else:
- Don’t panic
- Don’t judge
- Don’t blame yourself
If you panic it may just cause more panic. Stay calm and if you can’t have the discussion, find someone that you and your friend trust and let them know the signs you’ve noticed.
Don’t judge your friend while they are going through. They are already dealing with enough so if you start pointing fingers, it may only make it worse. It isn’t their fault they are where they are no matter what we may think.
One of the best things you can do is not blame yourself. I see so many times people saying “you should check on your loved ones” but what if your loved ones are not available or are not easily showing signs?
I went through depression for 2 years and no one knew. I knew very well how to hide most of the signs. I smiled in public and didn’t readily share what was going on.
How would my friends have known if I had decided to hurt myself? How could they have blamed themselves when it was me who was distant and who stopped sharing?
The best thing that you can do is keep an open mind and let your friend know that you are there….and then REALLY be there. If they want to talk let them talk….if they want you to leave them alone let them know you are close enough but will allow them to have some time.
I didn’t touch on this topic much because I have only dealt with it once. I was sad but thankfully I had a friend who was there and that I was unsuccessful in my attempt,
If you notice that you or a friend has dealt with any of the following it may be a sign that they are suicidal and may need some help. You may have to be a little more aggressive in your approach as well:
- Obsession with discussions about dying
- Talking about friends or even celebrities who have committed suicide
- Talk about not wanting to go on or giving up
If you or your friend is showing any of these signs, even if you are not sure, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at the number above. They can help you with resources and can save you or your friend’s life.
There are brighter days ahead even when the storm seems long
Know that you can make it through the pain. BELIEVE that this hurt can and will pass. I know
it may be hard but your healing starts in your mind. The more determined you are to heal the better your healing process can be.
And always remember SOMEONE loves you and wants you to be here!