Depression is real and it’s valid. It can happen to all of us at some time in our lives. Whether you’re an adult going back to the office or a kid going back to in-person school, our lives are full of anxiety and we sometimes feel sadly, out of control and unable to get it back. Although recognizing depression and suicidal thoughts isn’t always easy, there are things you can look for — in adults and kids — and action you can take if there is concern.
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders. It can be mild or very severe causing symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.
Depression isn’t necessarily on the forefront when we think of preventable deaths, but here are some scary facts:
- An estimated 21 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 8.4 percent of all U.S. adults.
- Major depressive episodes are more common among adult females (10.5%) compared to males (6.2%).
- The prevalence of adults with a major depressive episode was highest among individuals aged 18 to 25 (17.0%).
- Major depressive episodes were more frequent among those who report having multiple (two or more) races (15.9%).
Battling a Stigma
Henry Ford Health System psychologist Dr. Carnigee Truesdale says African-Americans, specifically, see suicide and depression as stigmas, where mental illness is often viewed as a weakness. She says there’s a mentality that African-Americans have where they should be able to handle and manage everything without an immense amount of struggle.
“My best guess is just that it’s culture. I think most people of color, they’re races that have a history of struggle, prejudice and racism,” Truesdale explains. “We’ve had to deal and overcome so much that I think it’s ingrained that in order to make it in society, you have to always do your best.”
Read more about the silent epidemic of suicide in the African American community.
Signs of Trouble
Changes in your home life or atmosphere can change your mood but depression can look and feel different. Many signs and symptoms of depression are similar for children and adults. Some of these include:
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating
- Changes in mood (feeling more irritable and constantly sad)
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Physical symptoms (more so in the adult population; i.e., headaches or chronic pain)
- Thoughts of suicide or self-injuring behavior, such as cutting (typically seen in teens and adolescents).
In teens and adolescents, though, some of these behaviors might just be instances of hormonal changes or “acting out.”
If you feel that you or someone you know is at risk for depression or suicide, Truesdale says that you should contact a mental health professional (social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, etc.) as soon as possible. If you aren’t sure where to find one, she recommends going to your primary care physician to get pointed in the right direction.
If you are in crisis and need help right away, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline-a toll-free number available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Wayne County Intervention, Suicide Prevention Information Referral Helpline also is accessible by calling 313-224-7000 or 800-241-4949.
Other local resources include Common Ground in Pontiac (800-231-1127), NSO Suicide Prevent Center in Detroit (800-270-7117), Operation Get Down in Detroit (313-921-9422) and Perfect Depression Care Center via the Henry Ford Health System (800-436-7936).