If you’re concerned about the well-being or safety of a loved one, follow this advice from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention…
In an emergency:
- Call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or 911
- Or visit an ER, urgent care center or the walk-in clinic at a psychiatric hospital
- Learn the Warning Signs for Suicide
- See these frequently asked questions on how to help someone who may be at risk for suicide
- See the frequently asked questions below on how to help yourself or a loved one who may be depressed
What are the signs someone is seriously depressed and in need of help?
Most of us have a lot to feel stressed about, and it’s normal to feel depressed sometimes. However, the following signs may mean that someone is seriously depressed and in need of help:
- Someone who is seriously depressed may have little interest or pleasure in doing things they used to enjoy.
- They may have trouble falling or staying asleep, or they may sleep more than usual.
- They may lose their appetite, or eat more than usual.
- They may feel tired or without energy, or like everything around them is moving slowly.
- Or they may feel agitated, fidgety, and restless.
- They may have trouble concentrating.
- They may feel like a failure, or that they’ve let themselves or someone else down.
- They may feel that they would be better off dead.
With the combined stresses of work or school, relationships, financial pressures, and family problems, isn’t it normal to feel depressed sometimes? Do we all need mental health treatment?
When someone notices changes in some or all of these areas that continue day in and day out for at least two weeks, they may be seriously depressed. Someone who feels this way for two weeks or more should talk to their doctor or a mental health professional about their feelings. Even though we all sometimes feel stressed and depressed, this type of persistent depression is not normal and it can be treated. There is help and there is hope.
What should I do if experience the signs of depression?
If you have lost interest in doing things you usually enjoy, have had changes in your sleeping or eating habits, feel listless or agitated, have trouble concentrating, and feel blue every day for two weeks or more, you may be seriously depressed. The following can help:
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings.
- Make an appointment with your family doctor, or ask someone for help making an appointment.
- Do not keep your feelings to yourself. Talking to someone may seem hard, but most people find it makes them feel better after they let someone know they need help. Your close friends and family may already have noticed that you seem sad or tired. Letting them know what’s going on will help them to understand and support you.
Is there a questionnaire I can fill out to find out if I’m depressed?
You may find user-friendly depression screening questionnaires online, such as the PHQ-9. These questionnaires can help you to learn the symptoms of depression, and to decide whether to seek out a mental health professional, or encourage someone to do so.
However, questionnaires cannot take the place of a doctor or mental health professional who can help you to figure out why you are feeling the way you do. A trained professional can work with you to find out if you have a treatable illness or mental illness and get you started on the path to healing. You may wish to start by taking an online test, but the best way to get help is by meeting in person with your doctor or a mental health professional.
How long does depression last?
Untreated depression can last for months or even years. But there is hope: With treatment, most people feel much better within a couple of months. Even after you feel better, professionals generally recommend staying in treatment for six months to a year to make sure that you continue feeling well.
Can antidepressant medications change you, or make you suicidal?
Research shows that depression is caused, at least in part, by changes in brain chemistry. Antidepressant medications work to reset the brain, helping you go back to feeling like yourself. When they are working effectively, antidepressants will help you to sleep better and feel more able to cope with things that used to upset you. You may feel more energetic, more talkative, and more interested in the world around you.
Some people experience side effects from antidepressant medications. While taking antidepressants or other medications, it is important to stay in close touch with your doctor, and to talk with her or him about all of the changes you feel and notice. Your doctor can change your medication or adjust your dosage to help you get the most benefit with the fewest side effects.
Studies show that early treatment with antidepressant medication can stop symptoms of depression from becoming more severe and long-lasting. They can also reduce the risk of the depression coming back, and reduce the risk of suicide resulting from depression. In a very small percentage of adolescents and young adults, antidepressants may contribute to increased suicidal thoughts or behaviors. However, no studies have found antidepressant use in any age group to be associated with completed suicide. In general, the benefits of antidepressant medication outweigh any risks.
Does psychotherapy (talk therapy) help to heal depression?
Psychotherapy includes a broad range of treatments that may or may not help a particular person or mental health condition. Most forms of open-ended psychotherapy have not been systematically tested or proven to be effective in treating depression. Short-term (16 weeks or less) intensive, structured therapies—like cognitive behavioral therapy—have been shown to be effective for depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and suicide attempts.