A lot of people struggle with mental health issues, and almost everyone will experience a rough period or a situational depression more than once in their lives.
When we’re feeling down, we need people to reach out to us, and when others are feeling at the end of their rope, we want to be able to return the favor.
If you’re not sure whether someone in your life could use a hand, here are less obvious “cries for help.”
1. They can’t be bothered to care for themselves.
The person stops caring about their appearance and neglects their hygiene and grooming, because in their mind they are thinking: “that it doesn’t matter since no one likes them anyway, that they don’t deserve to be clean or that it won’t make their lives better, so why bother.”
2. No down time.
When someone is constantly busy so they don’t give themselves time to think.
Also when someone gives up on a lot of basic things like cleaning or doing washing up because they can’t think about anything except what’s bothering them.
3. It could be either or.
I’m in a constant frenzy of either not caring at all (bare minimum of shower every day and deodorant IF I remember then regret when I am out and forget).
Or I’m the opposite. I’ll look into skin care routines, shampoo, cologne. What toothbrush should I get, cut any long hair (armpit or otherwise), what barber to get or hairstyle to have and types of dress leather shoes that cost too much.
Usually its the before person because its exhausting for me to keep up the 2nd one for a long time and sticking to it
4. It seems normal, sadly.
I knew a couple of people who kept extremely busy. One friend actually tried to work himself to d**th – NO ONE noticed, just thought he was very tired (worked night shift and did as much OT as possible while skipping breaks). Made me check in on a friend from school who tried to do like 10 clubs instead of focusing on 1 or 2.
Keep an eye on busy people – make sure they’re PROPERLY eating and sleeping – for real
5. A spurt of generosity.
Giving a lot of personal possessions away without wanting anything in return.
No joke, this lady I used to work with was telling me about how her son gave his skateboard away to a little kid out of the blue, and how proud she was of him being so selfless. My immediate thought was, “….oh my god, that kid is going to kill himself.”
Of course, how do you go about telling someone that without sounding like a complete jerk? So, I put the thought away, figured I was probably overreacting anyway, kid probably just wanted to be nice to the little boy, no cause for concern.
The following week, she came into my office, just totally numb, and says, “Can you take care of x thing? My son has been hospitalized. He attempted s**cide.”
I wished I had said something, but there is like no tactful way to say that without freaking someone out. Can you imagine being proud of your son for doing something seemingly selfless and then being met with, “Hey, might be more to that, that’s a sign that he might be plotting his own demise.”?
Thankfully, the kid survived. Turned out he had some kind of rare tumor that caused his mental health to completely derail.
6. She could never do enough.
One of my friends graduated top student in high school, aced all of her classes, and worked a full time job teaching students her own age at a community center. On top of that, she reached her piano ARCT level by middle school, and was winning gold medals from fencing tournaments. The whole school knew about her, and obviously wanted her skills.
But I knew her personally, and she was just suffering, probably more than most people. She had depression and anxiety, a SEVERE extent. She didn’t like herself, despite everyone wanting to be like her.
She said she felt lazy, that she could be doing more, and didn’t feel at all like she deserved any love. It just shows how real and unforgiving depression is.
7. Making odd decisions.
Bad decisions looking for short term happiness with no regard for how it will damage their life in the long run.
Getting a neck tattoo, buying a Mitsubishi, that sort of thing.
8. They don’t want to think.
I know the feeling. My GF of 6 years d**d two months ago. And I feel that if I stop doing things I’ll think too much and I just can’t.
But my therapist is telling me to continue to stay as busy as possible.
9. They don’t wanna.
Lack of interest.
Gamer all of a sudden no longer games? Gardener let his plants d**? Social butterfly now hides in a cave?
10. They can’t see the future.
It may seem a bit obvious, but when someone says that they don’t see themselves living past a certain age, or acting surprised that they made it to a certain milestone in their lives.
11. Ask how they’re doing.
Reaching out and being overly nice to friends both close and casual with the hope that they will reciprocate and eventually ask them how they’re doing, so that when they open up it’s not about being a burden but because they were prompted to do so.
When I was going through some stuff I felt like I really needed someone to ask me if I was ok, because answering “no” felt like a huge relief and just got me talking to someone.
Ultimately that led me to seek counseling, something I’m not sure I would have done otherwise. But I wasn’t about to just drop my issues on someone unprompted. I needed someone to ask first, otherwise I’d just feel like an asshole for burdening someone else with my problems when they didn’t ask or consent to that, even close friends and family.
Sometimes asking those small-talk questions can be profoundly therapeutic for someone in crisis who’s afraid to reach out for help.
12. A general lack of interest.
Sleeping all day and having no interest. No one cares, they just walk by or don’t understand. Makes you feel very alone. I don’t want someone to fix me but I do want someone to show they care.
Also drinking a lot when you have never been a drinker.
13. Too much al**hol.
Going out of their way to talk/reach out to ppl when that’s not the norm for them.
Excessive drinking when they usually don’t.
14. Unchecked emotions.
When someone has obviously been crying or tears up without apparent provocation, even in a very public setting, it can be a sign that they’re in too much pain even to try masking it.
I’ve also heard of severely depressed people who abruptly “snap out of it,” and go perky, and that can be indicative of a person who was agonizing over whether to end things, who has now decided to do so. Making that decision, sadly, gives them peace and relief.
15. Intrusive thoughts.
This is the number one indicator for me personally that I’m going from “it’s been a bad couple of days” to “full blown depression”. When I’m driving and there’s a near miss with a car and I think “it’d be good if they hit me”. Or I stand on the side of the road contemplating pretending to fall into traffic so it will look like an accident.
I knew I was bad currently when someone I know of d**d of cancer and my first thought was “I wish it was me”.
16. How horrible.
Years ago, I lost a friend to s**cide. He’d been in a bad depressive spell, and I hadn’t heard from him in a while. I would call and there was no answer, and the only way I could speak to him was if I drove to his house and banged on the door. After three months of sparse contact, he called me out of the blue one day just to talk. He said he was finally feeling better and thanked me for being a good friend.
He killed himself the next day. What f**ked me up is how happy he sounded. I tore myself apart for years thinking I’d missed something crucial, but now I understand he had made his plans and made peace with it, and he just wanted to say goodbye.
17. Eating is a struggle.
A reduction in food consumption. I’ve found when I’ve fallen down the hole and I just stop caring anymore I don’t eat anywhere near as much as I normally do.
Instead of having the standard 3-4 meal things a day I’ll be lucky to convince myself to have 2 as I simply don’t care anymore.
18. A red flag.
I had a girlfriend who occasionally suffered extreme bouts of depression.
She’d be high energy then suddenly she would try to sleep as much as possible.
She said “it just doesn’t hurt as much when you’re asleep.”
Any time I hear anyone sleeping A LOT I knew they were having a very difficult time and just try to be there for them.
19. Never accept less than you deserve.
Some people become very quiet and docile, like if they’ve resigned themselves to the minimum.
You matter, and there’s nothing inherently wrong about you. If you behaved and thought like another person, you’d be exactly like them. There is no “bad luck” or “curse”. You need to reconcile with yourself and believe in your ability and potential. You’re in a negative spiral which is difficult to break out of for sure, but it’s not impossible, I promise.
Once you break out, all the social things will get much easier as well.
I think it’s like this – you’re a lovable person, but you don’t have the leisure to be yourself and show yourself and open up to the world. And perhaps it is dangerous to show vulnerability in such a state, because a 100% success rate is unrealistic and some people are assholes (or have bad days, or misunderstand you, etc.)
So, I recommend doing it little by little. Small victories. Step by step. I know how a terrible mood can make it feel certain that nothing will ever be okay again. But it can, I promise again.
I managed, and I remember telling myself “If I can get out of this, anyone can”. Perhaps I did it only so that I could write comments like this, helping other people? Any reason is good though, no matter how silly.
And thanks for the awards and everything, but I’d rather have you give them to somebody else.
20. I never would have known.
Day dreaming tooooo much, or way harsher on themselves.
Maladaptive daydreaming gets incredibly hard to control for me when I get extremely down, it disrupts my life and sleep patterns.
But I don’t usually share this with people around me so not sure how my friends would know
21. They’re trying to push you away.
Alternatively, anger and irritability can be a symptom of depression. It’s harder to empathize with someone who’s having angry outbursts, but it’s still important to recognize.
I’ve never been the angry kind of person. I’ve always been easy going and even when wronged I would feel sad and cry rather than being mad.
After years of depression, anxiety and trauma I’ve become so irritable and angry, I don’t recognise myself and my feelings anymore.
It feels like no matter what bad feeling I have the first feeling I feel is always this strong overwhelming frustration.
22. It hurts your heart.
Sudden drastic improvement in mood of a depressed person, it could be a sign they have a plan to commit s**cide and feel better because they know it’s gonna end soon.
23. No more negative.
Purposely avoiding sad and difficult topics.
Sometimes when a person is constantly feeling like s**t the last thing they want to do is bring up more negativity when hanging out with people they enjoy being around.
Oftentimes being with friends/family can be a brief escape from always feeling awful and so bringing up negative topics can ruin this feeling of escape and make the depression feel never-ending and suffocating. Maybe they took weeks to tell you they failed a test or even dropped out of school.
Maybe you randomly hear from someone else that their dog d**d. Maybe they always switch the radio station from the news to pop songs.
Could be anything big or small; usually multiple things.
24. Thank goodness for sisters.
i remember my family noticing i became a lot more smiley and cheery around the same time that i had begun preparing to end it.
my sister in particular, who had been s**cidal in the past, had begun to sit down with me and just talk for a little while every night once she noticed. that ended up helping me quite a lot
25. It’s not the best word.
If anyone says they are FINE, like that word specifically there is usually an issue
But don’t worry about me I am fine.
26. Keep checking in.
When they start cutting off contact.
That outgoing, happy person suddenly “Just isn’t up to it,” or “Maybe some other time,” then something is wrong.
Also if they stopped caring about their physical appearance.
27. Trying to fake it for one more day.
Marked differences in behaviour where the person becomes way more positive and energetic than normal.
We tend to think of these sorts of changes as being good, but any sudden and large enough change in behaviour is something you need to keep an eye on.
This is especially true if they are going from a very negative pattern of thinking/behaviour into an uber-positive one very quickly.
Usually, those “now I feel like I can conquer the world” changes are the precursor to s**cide attempts and the like.
28. Take a big whiff.
About the physical appearance; I personally would do nothing when I had the change to.
So I could go without showering and taking care of myself for days.
But when I really had to go somewhere I would make an effort for my physical appearance (maybe even more than I normally would) just to keep the story going of how I’m doing just fine.
29. Anything that’s not normal.
This is pretty much the first thing they tell you in any s**cide prevention course. Had a coworker who was a complete jackass, would say the absolute meanest s**t and was always kind of energetic.
One day we were working late and towards the end of the shift I needed some direction from him, and he was being extra polite and calm and just let me know what I needed to do without any rude comments.
Two days later, he was gone.
If someone is not who they normally are, reach out.
30. Most common.
Anhedonia. Losing interest in things a person usually found to be a source of enjoyment.
Depression is a very insidious illness and a very isolating one.
Sometimes it can be hard to spot, because people are very conditioned to hide it.
Most common red flags:
- Excessive sleeping or insomnia
- Becoming tearful more easily than normal for the person
- Periods of mania and extremely high mood
- Short attention span
- Phrases like “I just don’t care any more” or “nothing matters any more”
31. Ask the hard questions.
It seems to often be because they were feeling down and hopeless for ages, maybe contemplating doing it but scared or changing their mind, or worrying about their family’s reaction or whatever. When they finally commit to themselves to just doing it they often feel a wave of relief. Like finally, the pain will end soon, no more struggling. They may tie up their loose ends (as mentioned above this could involve giving away belongings) for the last few days with more positivity because it’s no longer a struggle to them, it’s over soon.
If you know someone who has admitted to having s**cidal thoughts or implies they have thought about it recently it is good to check whether they have made specific plans about it. Many people will have the thought pop into their head when they are depressed, but manage to brush it away or decide against it if they really think about it for a while. But if it gets to the point where they are actually considering exactly where and how they would do it, it is MUCH more likely to actually happen. If they have a plan, get them help.
32. This one is coming up a lot.
The biggest thing to watch for is if the person suddenly becomes incredibly sunny and chilled out.
This is easy to mistake for them bouncing back, but keep an eye on them even closer if this happens out of the blue. 9 times out of 10, it’s because they’re about to attempt s**cide.
They’re likely sunny and positive because they’ve decided when to call it quits and end the pain they’re feeling for themselves because they’ve run out of hope.
This is when they need you most.
33. A short list.
- Joking about self harm
- Lack of interest in things usually enjoyed
- Giving away possessions
- Suddenly being much happier / content after being sad / unhappy for a long time!!! (This is often a sign that s**cide was planned and / or prepared)
- Anger / Frustration
- Lack of hygiene
- Sleeps a lot / always tired
- Self harm (yes, even if it’s “just for attention”, these people are inflicting physical damage on themselves) like cutting, hitting, pulling hair etc
- Substance abuse
- Reckless behaviour (eg crossing the street without looking, driving faster than the speed limit etc)
- Strange habits regarding food (loss of appetite, binge eating, refusing to eat in front of people, constantly counting cals, obsession with fitness etc)
- Loss / gain of weight
- Asking questions such as “would you visit me in the hospital” or similar questions
There are more but I can’t think of any right now. Just know that if your friends give you an “off” vibe, it’s usually right and something’s up. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re s**cidal, but maybe something happened recently. Just be there for them.
And if your friends are gymrats, make sure you watch their weight and eating habits, especially if they are men. A lot of men develop eating disorders while they go to the gym and they go unnoticed because EDs are often viewed as something only white teen girls get, when that’s not true at all.
34. Not cool.
Second hand su**cide, when they joke about being killed in an accident.
This is usually because they feel there are people in life who need them and they don’t want to commit s**cide themselves.
35. Too much snoozing.
People sleep more when they are avoiding a person/issue, when they are depressed, and when they are physically sick. In the case of someone who is high energy, and suddenly they have none is a big heads up, too.
My ex-FIL went from doing hours of yard work a day to doing none. He hit the point where he was ready to go, stopped eating right, and stopped drinking water, stopped cleaning himself.
He’d had enough of life, decided it was time. The only thing he did was sit on the couch and sleep.
Wouldn’t even sleep in his own bed.
I’m definitely making a mental note of these, y’all.
If you’re feeling down, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. People in your life love you!