Blog

Archives
Search Blog

Straight, No Chaser: Are You Depressed and/or Suicidal?

By Jeffrey Sterling, MD September 22, 2018

areudepressed
I have a strong distaste for do-it-yourself websites that want to ‘screen’ you for depression.  Folks, if you’re wondering whether you’re clinically depressed, you don’t need validation from some makeshift online questionnaire.  That said, if you’d like to learn something, go ahead and find one.  More importantly, seek assistance immediately from a qualified counselor or therapist.  They do wonderful work and can get through to you before you get to yourself.  Instead of a quiz, I will simply give you common signs and symptoms consistent with the diagnosis.  Note the progression in the symptoms.  The bottom line is: odds are, you already know if you need help.  Yes, there are different depression syndromes; I’m not getting into that.  You and a psychiatrist or therapist can sort that out.  Don’t be reassured by a quiz when you already know better.
You may be depressed if…

  • You feel sad, hopeless, empty, or numb to the point where you wallow in these emotions, and they dominate your existence.
  • You have a loss of interest in your normal activities of daily living.  It’s not just that you don’t enjoy things.  You don’t even want to be bothered with them.  You don’t want sex.  You don’t enjoy your friends.  You don’t want recreation.  You can’t eat.  You can’t sleep, or you can’t stop sleeping.  You can’t breathe (because of your crippling anxiety).  You might actually be depressed if you have these symptoms and didn’t get the ideas from listening to the lyrics of a Toni Braxton song.
  • You find yourself exceedingly irritable and/or anxious. These feelings are explosive and over the top.  You’re waiting, ready and looking for a reason to embrace gloom, doom or anger.
  • You have difficulty moving forward and making decisions. This occurs for many reasons.  Your attention may be shot.  Your interests aren’t there.  You’re overwhelmed.  Stuck in a rut is not only where you are, it’s where you want to be.
  • You feel worthless and blame yourself for any and everything.  Again, these feelings are explosive, dramatic and over the top.
  • You have thoughts of death and suicide. This is where things get beyond scary.  You may simply have a passive wishing that things would end and a belief that your friends, family and the rest of the world would be ‘better off’ without you.  You may have fleeting voices that aren’t your own suggesting or commanding suicide as an option.  You may see visions of people telling you to harm yourself.  You may have an active plan.  When depression gets to this point, nothing good is going to happen without intervention.  Never allow someone to make such comments and then pretend as if they were insincere.

Now consider these most common precipitants for suicide:

  • Problems with one’s intimate partner
  • Problems with one’s physical health
  • Problems with one’s job
  • Problems with one’s finances

You will have a lot better chance getting someone help at a warning stage than preventing someone from doing something once they have a weapon in their hands.  Approximately 30% of suicides result after the individual has expressed an intent to do so.  Listen up…  Take the signs of depression and any expressed thoughts of suicide seriously.
I welcome your comments, thoughts or questions.

0 thoughts on “Straight, No Chaser: Are You Depressed and/or Suicidal?

  1. How do we notice the signs of depression in others? Especially when most people will not say that they are having the feelings that you mentioned in this article.

    1. We know ourselves and our family members well enough to know when help is needed. Use the tendencies I’ve listed in the post as clues – you must become diligent in your ability to assess someone who may be in harm’s way. Families are allowed to ask a loved one’s primary physician to assess them for depression. It is simply shocking that in 30% of suicides, the individuals had previously stated their intention. We must get into the habit of taking depression and especially suicide threats seriously and getting those in danger the help they need. Thanks for your question and following my blog.

  2. What do you do when you notice these signs,but the individual is reluctant in doing anything about it…How do you get them to be more @ ease in trying to get them treatment

    1. Hi, Bryan. That’s the topic of the next post. There are circumstances under which individuals can and need to be involuntarily committed. It can be as simple as calling 911 for someone who is actively suicidal or homicidal. That’s for the question and following the Blog.

  3. I know someone that committed suicide, and he said that he was going to do it. Even though he said that he was going to kill himself, and he did…….his family still will not admit that he took his own life because unfortunately, in the black community, there is a huge stigma associated with mental health, and mental health related issues. For people that say that they are going to take their lives we may be able to get them help before they do so, but what can be done about the people that suffer in silence because they do now want anyone to know or to be seen as weak?

  4. Hi, Stephanie. In many communities, mental illness in general and depression in particular are viewed as signs of weakness. That said, the tell-tale signs are still there. When saving a life, it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission. If you know someone at risk, act on their behalf! I’m sorry for your loss.

Leave a Reply