While the holidays are a time of celebration, for some it’s a time of isolation, loneliness and emerging or deepening depression. Substance abuse may increase during this time of year, and some may even consider suicide. Do you know the warning signs for depression, substance abuse and suicide?
In any given year, depression affects more than 15 million adults in the U.S. Depression isn’t a personal weakness. It’s a real mental health condition that can happen to anyone from any walk of life at any age. Are you or is someone you love at risk for depression? Here are some warning signs:
Changes in sleep
Some people may sleep too much, others may sleep too little. Waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning are also possible signs.
Changes in appetite
Reduced appetite and weight loss, and conversely increased appetite and weight gain can both be indicators of depression.
Lack of focus
People with depression may have trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions—big or small.
People with depression may experience a loss of energy, sometimes so severe that a person is unable to perform normal daily routines.
Feelings of guilt and/or hopelessness
During periods of depression, people may dwell on failures and experience feelings of extreme guilt or worthlessness. Depression can also make a person feel that nothing good will ever happen. Suicidal thoughts may follow and should be taken seriously.
Some people experience persistent physical symptoms, like headaches or digestive issues.
Addiction is more common than you may realize. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an estimated 22.5 million Americans aged 12 and older reported needing treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use in 2014. Recognizing the early signs of substance abuse can help.
Loss of Control
Drinking or using more than a person wants to, for longer than they intended, or despite telling themselves that they wouldn’t do it this time
Ignoring Other Activities
Decreasing interest in activities that used to be important, or avoiding those activities altogether; decline in performance at work or school
Conflicts or acting out against those closest to the person, particularly if someone is attempting to address the person’s substance problems
Taking extreme measures to hide the amount of drugs or alcohol consumed
Changes in Appearance
Changes or decline in hygiene or physical appearance
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America. On average, more than 100 Americans die by suicide every day. Increasing awareness and offering support can make a difference–just one conversation can help. Do you know someone at risk? Here are some warning signs:
Talking about it
Talking about wanting to die, feeling trapped or experiencing unbearable pain or being a burden to others
Looking for a way
Looking for a way to kill oneself
Increased substance use
Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
Anxiety or agitation
Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
Changes in sleep
Sleeping too little or too much
Withdrawing from others or feeling isolated
Talking about seeking revenge
Extreme mood swings
Displaying a dramatic change in mood