Signs it’s Time to Seek Help

Everyone feels a bit of the blues now and then—whether it’s caused by the death of a loved one, dissatisfaction at work, a soured relationship, or the weather, even perpetually optimistic people experience depression. However, when depression becomes a constant, overshadowing everything in your life, it’s time to seek help.

Depression is a real mental illness, and yet the attitude persists that all you need is a good laugh, change of scenery, some “me time” or a date night to snap out of a depressed funk. For over 300 million people worldwide, it’s not that easy. Sadly, suicide and self-harm rank among the top ten leading causes of death in the United States, increasing 24 percent from 1999 through 2014. Over 44,000 people die by suicide each year. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, get help.

Negative emotions. When you experience extreme sadness, anger, or despair that you can’t control, find someone to talk to or call your doctor.

Risky behaviors. If you find yourself engaging in risky, unhealthy behaviors to cope, like excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, or unsafe sex, ask for help.

Personal loss. Stressful life events, like the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a job loss, may require outside assistance to process. Asking for help isn’t an admission of weakness.

Poor eating habits. Forgetting to eat or eating poorly can indicate a problem. Professionals have linked self-esteem to nutrition, because unhealthy eating habits can interrupt brain function and cause unclear thinking and confusion.

Poor sleeping habits. Your mood and sleep are closely linked, and when you’re anxious or stressed, your body responds by being more awake, alert, and aroused. Sleepless nights result in cranky, short-tempered, stressed people; imagine what happens when multiple sleepless nights pile up. Chronic insomnia often leads to a higher risk of developing mood disorders like depression or anxiety—which can spiral into substance abuse disorders.

Struggles at work. Perhaps your colleagues or superiors have noticed a decline in your productivity. You’re struggling to concentrate and/or your mental energy is low. Most jobs include their own unique set of challenges, but when you can’t move past them or find any enjoyment with your work—it may be a red flag.

Physical symptoms. Unexplained muscle aches and pains or digestive symptoms, a decreased appetite, fatigue, psychomotor activity changes often accompany major depression. When you visit your doctor, don’t just mention these symptoms—clue him in about your mental health, too, as they’re linked by a shared neurologic pathway.

Withdrawal from relationships and activities. People who know you well can tell when you’re present in body but emotionally absent, or when you’re unable to enjoy activities that once gave you pleasure. When people note that you’re treating others differently, reaching out to say goodbye, giving away prized possessions, or isolating yourself, listen to their concerns.

Other risk and warning can include:

●     Mental health conditions

●     Serious and/or chronic health conditions

●     Traumatic brain injury

●     A family history of suicide

●     Childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect

●     Previous suicide attempts

Correlation between suicide and drug addiction

Research suggests that there’s a major connection between suicide and substance abuse. In fact, suicide is the leading cause of death among people with substance abuse disorders. Mental health issues, such as anxiety, trauma, and depression, often co-occur with drug and alcohol addiction. In 2015, over 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses. It’s unclear how many of those deaths were intentional, but fact remains that alcoholism is a stronger predictor of suicide than a mental illness diagnosis. Fortunately, people who seek treatment for depression, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse can live happy, fulfilling lives.

While there isn’t a single cause for suicide, the fact remains that it’s becoming a growing epidemic. When life’s stresses meet physical health or mental health issues, sometimes it’s hard to see a way out. It’s important to find ways to maintain your emotional wellness, because when you’re equipped with coping strategies—like yoga, mindfulness, or exercise—weathering life’s inevitable stresses becomes easier. Never assume that asking for help indicates mental weakness or failure. There’s no shame in asking for a hand now and then.

Photo Credit:

Written by:

Melissa Howard

Head of Prevention Outreach