It is no surprise to me that my psychiatrist and therapist say they have seen a spike in anxiety and depression recently. A break in routine for a short period of time, like a vacation, can be invigorating and uplifting. However, long periods of uncertainty, lack of structure or a drastic change in routine can cause anxiety and the blues.
You may be aware that something is off with you or a family member. But, what are the signs of a more serious and persistent problem surfacing and what can you do to help? Fortunately, anxiety and the blues are treatable and support can go a long way toward getting back on track.
While it might seem that recognizing depression is easy, the signs are not always obvious. For one, people don’t always seem “sad” but, rather, might be angry, irritable and agitated.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
- Sadness or hopelessness
- Irritability, anger or hostility
- Tearfulness or frequent crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Loss of interest in activities
- Poor performance at work or school
- Major changes in eating or sleeping
- Restlessness and agitation
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Lack of motivation or enthusiasm
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Thoughts of death or suicide
If you recognize multiple signs in yourself or a family member, it’s time to get support. One of the most important ways to start immediate healing is through human connection. Also, studies show animal connection can also go a long way in improving mental well-being and happiness.
How to Help
- Set aside time each day to check in with your loved ones or friends.
- Focus on listening, not fixing or lecturing.
- Acknowledge feelings – don’t criticize or minimize feelings of depression or anxiety.
- Try to set time to “socialize” with friends, even if it means using FaceTime or Zoom.
- Make sure to get some activity or exercise everyday. Even a five minute stretch in the morning can help boost endorphins.
- Keep sleep routines as consistent as possible. Nothing messes with equilibrium like lack of or too much sleep.
- Trust your gut and get help if you need it.
- Be gentle with your loved one or yourself.
It’s important to watch for signs of anxiety or depression escalating into something more serious like thoughts of suicide. Comments, thoughts or behavior about suicide should always be taken very seriously.
Suicide Warning Signs
- Talking or joking about suicide.
- Saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” or “There’s no way out.”
- Speaking positively about death – “If I died, people might love me more.”
- Writing stories or poems about death or suicide.
- Engaging in reckless behavior.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Saying goodbye to friends and family as if it’s for the last time.
- Seeking out ways to kill themselves.
Don’t Ignore Signs of Suicide – Get Help
For 24-hour suicide prevention and support in the U.S., call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential.