As we know and have seen recently with the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade being wealthy and successful does NOT inoculate you against depression & anxiety. Just as we care for our bodies we must care for our minds and mental health. Whether you have ever been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or any other mental health disorder your self-care regimen should include taking care of your mental health.
I was honored to appear on #OffScript on WUSA Channel 9 the other day with Anchor, Debra Alfarone, and her other guests to include Dr. Caitlin Thompson of the Cohen Veterans Network and Roxanne Roberts of the Washington Post to discuss the warning signs of depression and suicidality.
Know the Warning Signs of Depression:
Clinical depression is characterized by the presence of 5 or more of these depressive symptoms:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feeling sad, blue, “down in the dumps,” or empty) or observations made by others (e.g., appears tearful or about to cry). (In children and adolescents, this may present as an irritable or cranky, rather than sad, mood.)
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities every day, such as no interest in hobbies, sports, or other things the person used to enjoy doing
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5 percent of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day
- Insomnia (inability to get to sleep or difficulty staying asleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much) nearly every day
- More days than not, problems with sitting still, including constant restlessness, pacing, or picking at one’s clothes (called psychomotor agitation by professionals); or the opposite, a slowing of one’s movements, talking very quietly with slowed speech (called psychomotor retardation by professionals)
- Fatigue, tiredness, or loss of energy nearly every day — even the smallest tasks, like dressing or washing, seem difficult to do and take longer than usual
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day (e.g., ruminating over minor past failings)
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (e.g., appears easily distracted, complains of memory difficulties)
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideas without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
*If you are concerned that you are clinically depressed or even suffering from depressed mood you should seek help from a professional i.e licensed therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist! Here is a list to National HOTLINES.
Whether you have signs of depression or anxiety there are things you can do to improve your mood and maintain your mental health.
10 Simple Things You Can do to Improve Your Mood:
- Exercise (even a 15 min walk can help)
- Spend time with supportive friends and family.
- Laugh (be around funny people, watch/listen to comedy)
- Get plenty of sleep
- Prayer and Meditation (even a few mins every day)
- Don’t overwork
- Have fun! (take time to play, hang out with friends do something you enjoy)
- Avoid negative thinking and focus on positive thoughts and emotions
- Practice Gratitude
- Celebrate even your smallest successes!