National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Recognizing a Need for Help

How do you tell if you or a friend might need some help?

The first thing to know is that seeking help is a sign of strength.  If you’re worried or concerned, go with your gut, ask for help!  This is never a wrong decision.  Truly, seeing a professional can really help.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders can help you or others to get the care that is needed.  Here are 12 Signs you might notice in yourself or a friend, that may be reason for concern.  They are certainly reason for you to talk with someone about what you’re feeling:

  1. Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, depressed mood, poor self esteem or guilt
  2. Withdrawal from friends, family and activities that used to be fun
  3. Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
    • Are you sleeping all the time? Or having trouble falling asleep?
    • Are you gaining weight or never hungry?
  4. Anger, rage, or craving for revenge
    • Sometimes people notice they are overreacting to criticism
  5. Feeling tired or exhausted all of the time
  6. Trouble concentrating, thinking, remember or making decisions
    • Are you suddenly struggling in school or at work?
    • Sometimes academic or professional performance suffers and grades drop or work product worsens
  7. Restless, irritable, agitated or anxious movements or behaviors
  8. Regular crying
  9. Neglect of personal care
    • Have you stopped caring about your appearance or stopped keeping up with your personal hygiene?
  10. Reckless or impulsive behaviors
    • Are you drinking or using drugs excessively?
    • Are you behaving unsafely in other ways?
  11. Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain that do not respond to routine treatment
  12. Thoughts about death or suicide (If you are worried a friend may be thinking about suicide, immediate action is critical.)

A large portion of students and attorneys have thoughts of suicide at some point.  If you are feeling this way, you are not alone.  But although these feelings can be common, there is no reason you have to suffer from them.  As soon as you start feeling out of the ordinary, you deserve to seek help.

There is not one way people look and feel when they have depression or a different mental health disorder.  Some people show behavioral changes – liking missing deadlines or avoiding all personal interactions – other might show physical signs, like slouched posture or constant headaches.  Mental health concerns can look different in men and women.  But, if you recognize any of the above 12 Signs for more than several days in yourself, a friend or a colleague, getting help is likely to be especially important and effective.

There are many places to get advice, support and treatment for mental health disorders to get you feeling better.  Seeking help is really worth it. Click here to find out more.

Everyone else seems happy and OK.  Am I the only one feeling terrible?

No.  You are not alone.  One third of practicing attorneys reported feeling depressed at least once a week and that number is as high as almost one half of law students.   Mental health disorders are real, common and treatable.  Getting help is important.

What can I do as a friend?

Friends can help get friends into important and effective care.   It is not your job, but often friends are the first, and sometimes the only, ones to know when someone is experiencing a mental health disorder.

How do I know if suicide is a concern?

If you are worried a friend may be thinking about suicide, immediate action is critical. Suicide can be prevented.  Most people who are suicidal give definite warning signs that they plan to take their own lives.  Often those close to them are unaware of the significance of these signals or are unsure of what to do about them.  There is no foolproof way to know for sure that a friend is thinking about hurting him/herself, but by recognizing warning signs and taking action, you can help.

Thank you to our friends and past grant recipients at Active Minds for the content on this page.