Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. – Philo
I read a surprising statistic that said that by 2020, depression will be one of the leading causes of death and disability. This past week while on social media, I’ve read posts by people discussing suicide and expressing lonely feelings and negative attitudes. There was also the shock of the suicide of renowned director, Tony Scott, who jumped from a bridge. I’ve quietly paid attention to the news and reports, but I reserved any judgments or speculations. I read an article on the Hollywood Reporter where a witness said that Scott looked resolute before jumping from the bridge. I thought this is a good time to talk about depression.
We all experience sadness or feeling low from time-to-time, especially after suffering a loss. Depression is much deeper and, possibly, debilitating than this. A person that is dealing with depression is suffering from sadness on a daily basis.
The symptoms, taken from webmd.com, might include:
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day.
- Impaired concentration, indecisiveness.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day (called anhedonia, this symptom can be indicated by reports from significant others).
- Restlessness or feeling slowed down.
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
- Significant weight loss or gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month).
If you notice these signs in a friend, significant other or family member, you can encourage them to visit a doctor. If you suspect that someone may be at risk for suicide, you should encourage them to call the suicide hotline. Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or the deaf hotline at 800-799-4889.
Depression is a very serious illness and should be treated that way. People often think that the depressed person can just snap out of it or it is laziness, but it is much more difficult than people understand. There is also the picture of a depressed person as someone who can’t get out of bed or change their clothes. This is true for some, but not for all. There are people who are still able to take part in daily life, but who are still suffering from depression. The symptoms are not the same for everyone or every level of depression.
There are a few unlisted symptoms that I would suggest that you pay attention to:
- Withdrawal and isolation are huge signs of depression. For example, if someone used to be present at events, but starts declining them in favor of spending time alone.
- My advice is also to pay attention to what they say. If someone talks about suicide or dying, you should take it very seriously. Encourage them to get help. The less obvious signs is if someone is constantly negative about himself or his life and rarely expresses any happiness with his life.
- If the person is talking about his life and he replaces “when” with “if“, such as “if I’m here or “if I go.” If there is no talk about his future, I would urge you to ask why. Often, talking about the feelings and expressing love for the person can help but you shouldn’t assume that it is enough. They need to see a professional.
- Catastrophic thinking is another sign. If someone talks about something and make it so big that it impacts their whole life. For example, “if I lose him, I don’t know how I will make it.” “If I lose my job, I lose everything.” To anyone else, this may seem to be an exaggeration. In a depressed mind, it could feel true.
If you suspect that someone is depressed and they don’t realize it, you can even share this post with them. If they see the symptoms, they may realize that they have something that can be helped. Depression can be eased through the use of medication and/or therapy. It is possible to feel better. The most important thing you can do is to acknowledge it and talk about it. Depression thrives in making the person feel as if they are alone in all their problems.
Every suicide that we witness is meant to shock us into remembering that you don’t fully understand what another human being is going through. But, sometimes, it takes asking a simple question to find out, “Are you alright?” If you know the person is not okay, don’t leave them to figure it out on their own. A depressed person has lost their connection to love and love is what we are living for. At the end of her show, Oprah said, “I would tell you that every single person you will ever meet shares that common desire. They want to know: ‘Do you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say mean anything to you?’ “ Let them know that you see them and remind them of the love that is available to them.