Clinical depression is more than sadness. It’s a mental illness, and professional treatment is necessary. It’s nothing to be ashamed of—1 in 4 adults will have a diagnosable mental illness at some point in their life—but it’s difficult to change or improve without real treatment.

Situational vs. Biological Depression

Situational depression is triggered by the events of your life. This might be the loss of a loved one, a traumatic event, or ongoing struggles with family or friends. Depression caused by a situation is no less real and can require professional treatment to get better.

Biological depression occurs without any specific cause and is generally due to brain chemicals or hormones that are out of balance.

Think of it like asthma. We all know that asthma attacks may be triggered by something in the environment (such as allergens from plants and pets) but they can also occur due to the internal conditions of one’s own body. Either way, an asthma sufferer should seek immediate treatment for the attack. Depression is no different.

Suicidal Warning Signs

How can you tell if someone you know might be thinking about hurting themselves or even committing suicide? Look for one or more of these signs:

  • Talking or joking about committing suicide
  • Speaking in finalities, saying things like, “I’d be better off dead,” “I wish I could disappear forever,” or “There’s no way out.”
  • Speaking positively about death or romanticizing dying (“If I died, people might love me more.”)
  • Writing stories and poems about death, dying or suicide
  • Engaging in reckless behavior or having a lot of accidents resulting in injuries
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family as if for good
  • Seeking out weapons, pills or other ways to kill themselves
  • Even a sudden calmness from someone who has been excessively upset can be a warning sign if it happens without a clear reason

If someone you know threatens suicide or shows signs of suicidal thoughts, contact a suicide help line immediately.

800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
877-YOUTHLINE (968-8454)
800-273-TALK (8255)