More than 18 million Americans suffer from depression. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.

Depression is a treatable disease. If you can spot the warning signs and symptoms of depression and help someone to get needed treatment, you can change that person's life - and maybe even save it.

Symptoms of depression

Symptoms of depression begin with a deep sense of sadness, despair, and/or a lack of joy or interest. You could also have at least four of these symptoms:

  • Change of appetite
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Trouble remembering or concentrating
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Decreased activity
  • Unexplained headaches or physical pain
  • Neglect of responsibilities and appearance
  • Withdrawal from family or friends
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Major warning signs of suicide

Over 70 percent of those who die by suicide showed warning signs:
  • A previous attempt
  • Talking or writing about death/suicide in direct/indirect ways
  • Change of behavior
  • Past and/or present substance abuse
  • History of depression or suicide in the family
  • Symptoms of depression

What to do when someone may be suicidal

  • Ask the person outright. Most experts now agree the risk of planting an idea of suicide is much less than the danger of keeping quiet.
  • Take immediate steps to ensure safety. Eliminate access to firearms. Take the person to a physician and/or therapist.
  • Enlist family and community support.
  • Don't leave the individual alone until help is in place.
  • If you are 18 or under, tell a responsible adult, counselor, pastor or teacher.
  • If you think someone is about to act, call a hotline for help. Do not hesitate to call the police. The goal is to interrupt the moment.

Getting help

Riverside Behavioral Health Center uses behavioral, family and educational therapies in the treatment of adults, adolescents and children. If you know of a person struggling with depression or other mental health disorders, Riverside can help. The Admissions team at Riverside Behavioral Health Center can connect you with appropriate resources: 757-827-1001.

Resources for depression and suicide prevention information
We acknowledge the assistance of the Hampton Roads Survivors of Suicide Support Group in providing information for this page. Other resources include the following:

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