Recently I did a ten-minute employee presentation on depression. The person who asked me to do it wanted me to do it on suicide and depression, but I managed to reduce it to one topic when I pointed out that the largest percentage of suicides in the U.S. occur in the Spring (specifically May). However, a lot of people get depressed around this time of the year — perhaps it is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD; a lack of sunshine), or having to face gift-giving occasions without much money, or all the family drama of indoor holiday gatherings, or something else entirely. Still, the topic is much too huge for a ten-minute presentation. I decided to focus on what they could do to help themselves if they are depressed, or to help others. I reduced the points to a bulleted half-sheet handout, and a list of Hotline phone numbers.
First I stressed that if the person has been depressed for more than two months and/or is considering suicide, get professional help. Depression can be a killer. Therapy can make a difference, sometimes aided by the right medications.
There are things you can do to keep situational depression or mild depression from becoming more serious, such as:
- Exercise: Take a walk.
- Get out in Nature.
- Eat healthy.
- Don’t isolate yourself.
- Take time for yourself.
- Do things you enjoy or used to enjoy (even if you don’t feel like doing anything).
- Get plenty of rest (7-9 hours per day).
- Challenge the negative voices in your head.
- Make small changes.
- Interaction with pets may help.
And when someone you know is depressed:
- LISTEN! (Don’t be in a hurry to tell your story.)
- Be willing to just sit with them.
- Offer food (something healthy).
- Encourage them to take a walk with you (which also gets them outdoors).
- Ask if they want a hug.
- Don’t say things you don’t mean.
- Don’t act jolly!
- Let them know it is okay to feel sad.
- Say things like, “I care,” or “I can’t imagine how difficult it must be.”
- Watch a movie or television with them (not something depressing).
- Ask, “What can I do to help you right now?”
Here are some of the Hotlines I suggested (toll-free phone numbers in the U.S. a person can call when they just need to talk):
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-784-2433
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Covenant House Nineline: 1-800-999-9999
- Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 press 1
- Gay and Lesbian National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
Hotlines valid only in California:
- Elders Friendship Line: 1-800-971-0016
- Teens (peer counseling, 6-10 p.m.): 1-800-852-8336
Again, this topic is much too huge for a ten-minute presentation. If a person has been depressed for more than two months, and/or is considering suicide, get professional help. Remind them they are not alone, and things can get better.