Following the passing of actor Robin Williams, the topics of depression and suicide have been thrust into the limelight. Many were shocked and left wondering if warning signs were missed and how this could have been prevented. Depression is a common and serious illness; please take a couple minutes to learn more about the signs and symptoms of depression, and what you can do to help.

Signs and symptoms of depression vary from person to person. They can include feeling sad, down or “empty”, loss of interest in activities that were once a source of pleasure, feelings of hopelessness,
feeling worthless or helpless, irritability or restlessness, and/or changes in appetite and sleeping patterns. Other symptoms include loss of energy or always feeling tired, persistent feelings of guilt,
trouble concentrating or making decisions, abuse of alcohol or drugs, and/or thoughts of suicide.

Recognizing symptoms and warning signs are the first steps in helping yourself or someone you care about. If you are concerned about someone’s well-being, taking immediate action is very
important. Some depression and suicide resources are listed below, as well as suggestions for how to help.

“The most important first step one can make when experiencing signs of depression is to get help. Don’t struggle in silence or think it will just go away on its own,” says Kent Alford, RN, director of behavioral health services for Adventist Behavioral Health. “Talk to your doctor or seek support from a trusted friend.” Depression is a treatable disease, and there are many different treatment options available, including therapy and medication.

Did You Know?

  • Major depressive disorder is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.
  • Women are 70 % more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime.
  • Each year about 6.7% of U.S adults experience major depressive disorder.

How to Help

  • Talk to the person about what you’ve noticed and why you’re concerned.
  • Explain that depression is a medical condition, not a personal flaw or weakness — and that it usually gets better with treatment.
  • Suggest that the person see a professional —a medical doctor or a mental health provider, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), licensed counselor or psychologist.
  • Offer to help prepare a list of questions for the person to discuss in an initial appointment with a doctor or mental health provider.
  • Express your willingness to help by setting up appointments, going with the person to appointments and attending family therapy sessions.

Free Behavioral Health Consultation

We all can help do our part to lift the stigma of mental illness and depression by talking more openly and compassionately about this disease. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, call 301-891-5602 for a free behavioral health consultation.

Additional Resources


Sources: Workplace Options, National Institute of Mental Health, LifeWork Strategies EAP, and Adventist HealthCare. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For medical advice, consult your physician. Feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.