Updated on 1/3/2022
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Whenever you’re dealing with a troubling situation, it helps to talk to someone about your thoughts and emotions, whatever it is you’re going through. But sometimes, reaching out to someone isn’t such an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to issues affecting your mental health. Simply telling someone “I need help” can feel impossible.
While we all deal with stress at work or bumps in our relationships, if you’re feeling desperate, anxious, overwhelmed, alone and scared, or you’re dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts, it may seem like there’s no one who understands what you’re going through. It starts to feel like the pain you’re going through may be permanent. You need someone to turn to for help and support. However, there are ways to deal with these thoughts and feelings. Just saying the words “I need help” to someone trustworthy, could help you get the support you deserve.
How Do I Get The Help I Need?
One important thing to remember when you feel depressed, anxious, or even if you’re having suicidal thoughts is that it’s always best to ask for help (if you or someone you care about is having thoughts of suicide or self harm, call 1-800-273-TALK immediately for assistance. Breaking the silence can save lives). Opening up to someone, saying to them “I need help,” and talking about what you’re struggling with isn’t an easy thing to do, but there are people who can support you through the hard times.
Consulting your healthcare provider is a good first step to getting help. Mental health professionals understand the warning signs and have experience listening to people who are going through similar situations — they have years or training specifically geared toward helping people who are struggling — and it can be a safe space to communicate your feelings without judgement. Your provider may also refer you to a therapist, psychiatrist, or prescribe medication to help manage your condition.
Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or other medication that will help you cope with your symptoms. While there’s no specific drug specifically for the treatment of suicidal thoughts, there are many treatments available that can bring relief when you need help. Connect with an in-person or online psychiatrist to find the best treatment options for your needs. Sometimes, however, the prescribed medication can have side effects that make you feel worse. If this happens, you should talk to your doctor or psychiatrist immediately or call 911 if you’re having thoughts of suicide or harming yourself.
Peer support groups bring people who have had similar experiences together to provide encouragement and emotional support for each other. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with other people who understand what you’re going through can help you go a long way in dealing with depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. You’ll also get tips from other people on how to manage whatever daily challenges come along.
Therapy can help you understand why you’re dealing with these challenges, and help you develop ways to cope with these struggles and develop strategies to better manage them. If you’re not comfortable speaking face-to-face with a therapist — in person during the pandemic — you can still speak with a trained professional via online therapy to get the help you need.
What If I Can’t Tell That I’m Depressed?
While most of us are familiar with the symptoms of anxiety, depression isn’t always easily identifiable — it doesn’t always show up as negative thoughts and a feeling of sadness you can’t shake off. Sometimes, depression sneaks up on a person gradually without them being aware that it’s dominating their thoughts.
When you are experiencing symptoms of depression that are not easily identifiable, you may get the feeling that something isn’t quite right. For instance, you may feel constantly tired or listless; you may have trouble sleeping, feel increasingly forgetful, and find it hard to take pleasure in activities you used to enjoy. You may not feel sad, but you don’t care about the things you used to enjoy.
When you can’t figure out whether or not you’re depressed, it can be a challenge even to say the words “I need help” — you don’t feel happy, but you also don’t think your thoughts and feelings are severe enough to be called “depression.” It can be an indescribable and isolating feeling to experience this type of emotional distress. Keep in mind that millions of people around the world struggle with depression, anxiety, and many other conditions that impact their mental health. There’s no shame in simply saying the words: I need help.
And as unclear and subtle as depression symptoms can be, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a serious condition that can adversely affect one’s life.
When To Act
Dysthymia, or persistent low-level depression is characterized by symptoms that aren’t as severe as those that occur in major depression, but are life-altering nonetheless. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, dysthymia affects an estimated 1.3% of adults in the US at some point in their lives.
The best way to avoid significant problems arising from low-level depression is to seek treatment as soon as symptoms occur, regardless of their intensity or strength.
Dealing With Suicidal Feelings
Like depression, many millions of people experience suicidal feelings. You might feel hopeless, overwhelmed by negative thoughts, desperate, stuck and unable to make changes in your life, or cut off from your body. Suicidal feelings have an affect not only on your mental health but your physical health as well. Along with these suicidal thoughts, you may also be struggling with depression, self-loathing, or self-harm. ‘I know I need help, but I’m not sure how to get it,’ you may be thinking to yourself.
You might be unable to cope with these thoughts, and feel like carrying on with life is impossible. The thoughts can build up over time, or change as time goes on. And it’s common for a lot of people to not understand why they feel this way. Just remember — there is help out there and you won’t always have these feelings.
Why Do I Feel Suicidal?
Anyone of any age, gender or background can be affected by suicidal thoughts. You may not know what makes you have these thoughts, but suicidal thoughts may be caused by a combination of factors including mental illnesses, bullying, abuse, loneliness, substance abuse, gender dysmorphia, discrimination, money problems, major life changes like retirement, postnatal depression, and other kinds of trauma you find yourself unable to cope with.
If you are unsure about why you feel suicidal, it can be even harder to speak aloud the words “I need help,” and realize that there is help out there. You may also want to talk to someone, but feel unsure whether or not they’d understand; you may be scared of being judged, worried that you might be bothering them, or skeptical that your feelings are valid.
It’s important to remember that you deserve support and to feel better. You don’t have to deal with these feelings alone. There are ways to start a conversation about suicidal feelings with someone you can trust, and get the help you need.
Talking To Someone About Your Suicidal Feelings
If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts or ideation, it’s imperative that you get help immediately. Please call +1 (800) 273-8255 or use these resources to get immediate help. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911.
If you’re feeling a little better it’s advisable to talk to someone you truly feel comfortable with — a family member, a friend, a doctor, or a mental health professional. These are the people who will hear and respond when you reach out and say “I need help.” Try to think about it as just another conversation, be gentle with yourself, and be open to getting help from someone.
When you feel prepared enough to talk about these thoughts, here are some things to remember:
- This is your personal experience, and you are in control of how much you decide to share.
- Communication doesn’t have to be verbal — you can talk about your feelings via email, text, or a letter.
- Explain how you’re feeling and how it has affected your daily life.
- Have as many conversations as you need. When you find someone you trust — with the right expertise and training — they will provide the support you need. You will feel better.
It can be hurtful not to get the reaction you were expecting after you express your suicidal thoughts to someone, that’s why it’s important to seek out a trained professional who will listen without judgement and provide practical strategies to help you feel better.
Coping With Suicidal Thoughts
While you seek help for these thoughts, you can also develop strategies to cope with them whenever they come. Here are some tips to help you create a safety plan:
- Delay any immediate decision to self-harm or end your life. Give yourself time to get the help you need.
- You shouldn’t be alone. If possible, have someone around you until your thoughts decrease in intensity and frequency.
- Remove any item or substance in your environment that can potentially harm you, and avoid specific triggers or triggering situations.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. They can heighten suicidal thoughts and expose you to a greater urge to act on them.
What To Do When Suicide Feels Like The Only Option
A mental health crisis can be overwhelming. If you are dealing with suicidal thoughts or ideation and get the impulse to end your life, help is just a call away. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is always available to support you during a crisis, and you can reach them round the clock by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and immediately saying the words “I need help”.
There are other helplines that offer support to specific groups, such as the The Trevor Project which provides suicide prevention and crisis management services to LGBTQ+ youth, The Veterans Crisis Line managed by trained professionals from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline that offers treatment referrals to people dealing with substance abuse and mental health crises.
If you have experienced depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts before, you may be worried that these feelings will be with you forever. While you get the professional help you need, you should also remember to be patient with yourself. We all need help sometimes.