The suicide death of beloved comedian and actor Robin Williams highlights the need to know the signs of severe depression, says a New York psychiatrist.
“This event reminds us of how significant depression can be and how it can impact all of us,” said Scott Krakower, DO, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital. “A lot of times people feel you can just shrug off depression and that’s not always the case.”
Despite always being in the spotlight with a smile on his face and a ready joke, the 63-year-old star had been battling severe depression in the last few months and had a history of substance abuse.
“It’s very hard to read someone,” Dr. Krakower said. “A person can appear to be very happy and internally be just really depressed.”
However, there are telltale signs of severe depression that you can look for in a loved one that may indicate the need to speak to a mental health professional, the doctor said.
• Becoming withdrawn and isolating themselves from friends and family.
• Doing things out of character, such as a change in routine or activities.
• Talking about feeling worthless or hopeless.
Other signs, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, are:
• Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves.
• Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online or buying a gun.
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
• Talking about being a burden to others.
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
• Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
• Sleeping too little or too much.
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
• Displaying extreme mood swings.
“It’s certainly a very serious illness and should be taken seriously,” Dr. Kakower said.