In our previous blog in the series, we discovered why suicide tends to increase towards spring and identified those who are most at risk. You can read the full post here.
If you’re worried that you, or someone you love, may be depressed and/or experiencing suicidal thoughts and feelings, then read on. In this article, we explore the common feelings and behaviours exhibited by those experiencing depression and/or suicidal thoughts and where you can go to get help.
If you feel that you need imminent support, click here to view details of who you can contact.
What is depression?
Firstly, it’s important to note that depression is different for everyone and while some people will relate to all feelings and behaviours below, others may only relate to one or two. However, depression is commonly described as being in a low mood which lasts for a prolonged time which can begin to affect your everyday life.
Depression changes how you think, feel, and function in daily activities. It can range from the feeling of constantly being in low spirits, making daily tasks much harder to do, to losing interest in your hobbies, to—at it’s most severe—losing the will to live and contemplating taking your own life. Depression can interfere with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and generally enjoy life.
What are the common signs of depression?
As mentioned earlier, depression is different for everyone. However, below are some of the most common feelings and behaviours exhibited by those experiencing depression.
|How you might feel||How you might behave|
|Down, upset, or tearful||Avoiding social events and activities you usually enjoy|
|Restless, agitated, or irritable||Self-harming or suicidal behaviour|
|Guilty, worthless, or down on yourself||Finding it difficult to speak or think clearly|
|Empty and number||Losing interest in sex|
|Isolated and unable to relate to other people||Difficulty remembering or concentrating on things|
|Finding no pleasure in life or things that you usually enjoy||Using more tobacco, alcohol, or drugs than usual|
|A sense of unreality||Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much||No self-confidence or self-esteem||Feeling tired all the time||Helpless and despairing||No appetite and losing weight or eating too much and gaining weight||Suicidal||Physical aches and pains with no obvious physical cause||Moving slowly, or being restless and agitated|
If some of the above feelings resonate with you but you’re not entirely sure if you’re experiencing depression, some experts suggest keeping a journal of your feelings to help you better understand your thoughts and feelings. Surprisingly, it can be difficult to remember how you feel day-to-day but by keeping a journal, you will see any patterns and get an idea of how long you’ve been feeling a certain way.
Experts suggest recording things like mood changes, shifts in appetite, change in sleep patterns, concentration and energy levels, as well as feelings like guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness. If you notice that these feelings continue for more than two weeks, seek advice from your GP.
Writing how you are feeling can also help you to get your feelings and emotions out. Using a paper-based medium can help prevent feelings from building up, which can often lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms.
A common misconception is that something has to have happened for you to experience depression but the causes are much more complicated than that.
What is suicide?
Suicide is when someone purposely ends their own life. This is rarely caused by one individual event, instead, experts believe that a number of complex issues can make somebody feel this way.
When somebody is thinking about ending their own life, they often feel like nothing will help get them out of their current situation or stop them from feeling the way they do.
Like depression, suicide is rarely brought on by a single event or incident. Instead, there are certain situations which can make somebody more likely to think about taking their own life.
- Difficult life events, such as a traumatic childhood or domestic abuse (both emotional and physical)
- The end of a relationship or death of a loved one
- The misuse of drugs and/or alcohol
- Living alone or having very little social connection or contact with others
- Difficulty with debt, money, redundancy, or work in general
- Mental health conditions such as depression, schizophrenia, or personality disorder
- Having a physical health condition which impacts significantly on day-to-day life—particularly if it causes pain
Why do some people choose to end their own lives?
Thoughts and feelings of wanting to take your own life aren’t always clear. For some, the feelings will be confusing, while for others, they may not care either way if they live or die. Rarely is someone absolutely certain without any doubt that they want to die.
While the feelings around suicidal thoughts will differ from individual to individual, there are usually some common reasons as to why somebody will want to end their life.
These can include:
- To escape their current situation, which is often completely overbearing and seen as impossible with no way out
- To relieve unbearable thoughts and/or emotional turmoil
- To relieve physical pain and/or incapacity
Like depression, those thinking of suicide often experience similar thoughts and feelings. These can include:
- The feeling that they have let themselves and/or those they love down
- That there’s no point in living
- That they’ll never find a way out of their situation
- The feeling that they’ve lost absolutely everything
- That things will not or can not get any better
- That nobody cares anyway
What behaviours might someone with suicidal thoughts exhibit?
Look out for:
- An increase or the beginning of anxiety or irritability
- An increase or the beginning of confrontational behaviour
- An increase or the beginning of mood swings without any obvious reason
- Starting to act recklessly
- A change in sleep patterns—either sleeping too little or sleeping excessively
- Avoiding the company of others
- Starting to struggle at work or school—whether that be concentration issues or disciplinary
- Being particularly negative about themselves
- Threatening to kill or hurt themselves
- Talking about death or suicide
- Actively looking for ways to attempt suicide or making moves towards it, for example, stockpiling medications
It is rare for somebody to want to take their own life beyond a shadow of a doubt. And a lot of people will try to seek help before attempting suicide. This can be in the form of opening up about how they feel, trying to drop hints by talking about depression and suicide in general, or self-harming to show that they’re in pain.
If you notice any of the above behaviours and feelings either in yourself or in a loved one, seek help. This can be from a GP or many of the charities who are open year-round. If you feel like either you or someone else is in immediate danger of suicide, call 999 or go to A&E.
If you want to learn more about suicide, including how you can spot someone experiencing suicidal thoughts and potentially support them, then Kent County Council, Medway Council and Transforming Health and Social Care in Kent and Medway have funded FREE training which you will be able to access.
Where to get help
If you need immediate help, go to A&E or dial 999.
For year-round support, you can contact charities such as:
Maidstone & Mid Kent Mind (Mind)
Maidstone & Weald Samaritans (Samaritans)
Papyrus (suicide prevention for under 35s)
Childline (suicide prevention and mental health support for under 19s)
Written with help from our friends at Maidstone & Mid Kent Mind