Helping Others Cope with Depression

5.24.17

At the beginning of April, Netflix debuted its widely talked about new series 13 Reasons Why, based off the novel published a decade ago. Clay Jensen receives a package containing cassettes recorded by his classmate Hannah Baker, who killed herself two weeks earlier. The recordings say there are thirteen reasons why she ended her life. The series tackles hard-to-handle topics like suicide and depression.

One in five adults, and one in five adolescents age 13-18, experiences mental illness in a given year, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 25% of adults with mental illness believe people are caring and sympathetic toward those with a mental condition2. As in the series, those around Hannah do not always know how to recognize or help someone suffering from mental illness. The stigma associated with mental illness can prevent people from seeking the help they need. But depression is treatable. We can help make a positive difference for those struggling with depression.

Know the warning signs

Trying to tell the difference between what is “normal” and what might be the signs of a mental illness is not always easy. Everyone can experience different symptoms, but common signs can include:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)

What can you do? 

Learn how to identify when someone you know or care about is struggling. Early detection and intervention can lead to improved outcomes. Consider these steps:

  1. Be supportive. If you notice any of the warning signs, talk to the personhonestly and openly about what you noticed and why you are concerned.
  2. Suggest seeing a professional such as a physician or mental health provider.
  3. Express your love. Show your willingness to helpand ask them what they need and/or expect from you.
  4. Have a plan. If you believe there is a risk of suicide, know the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255) and have phone numbers for family members.
  5. Follow-up.Check-in with your loved one. See how they’re doing. And continue to offer support.

Being able to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness can enhance the overall well-being of our communities and our country.


Sources:
1 http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

2 https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/data_stats/mental-illness.htm
3 http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs
http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers/Learning-to-Help-Your-Child-and-Your-Family
5 http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers/Being-Prepared-for-a-Crisis

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