Depression: How to talk to loved ones about it

Depression: How to talk to loved ones about it

NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - The world is still reeling from the loss of Williams, who reportedly suffering from depression before taking his own life.

It brings to light a greater question: how many people are battling depression?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 25 million Americans suffer from depression, but only half receive treatment.

"There's a lot of stigma around depression, anxiety, mental health issues," said Charlotte Anderson, vice president of 2-1-1 Services for Trident United Way. "It's hard to come forward and say 'I might be funny on the outside, but when I'm home I'm struggling like this'."

Anderson oversees 2-1-1, a crisis intervention and support hotline for Trident United Way. Their volunteers take hundreds of calls every day and talk anonymous people through painful moments.

"Depression can be triggered by life circumstances but clinical depression also just comes on," said Anderson. "When things come over you and they can feel so overwhelming and debilitating.

If you suspect someone in your life is silently suffering, Anderson said look for the signs. If you see someone pulling back or isolating, consuming an increased amount of alcohol or medication or just behaving unusually - say something

"Even though we're scared sometimes and don't know what to say, don't let that stop you from reaching out," said Anderson.

Anderson said keep it simple and straight forward, and always approach with honesty and compassion. She suggests using phrases like "I care about you" or "I'm worried about you." Anderson said even if you're not sure what you can do, say something like "I see that you're having a hard time and I want to help even though I'm not sure how."

Also, never make light of the situation, don't brush it off, said Anderson. She adds, it doesn't usually help to say "I know how you feel."

"The worst thing you can do is say nothing," said Anderson.

Anderson says don't stop reaching out, even if it's just a daily text message saying "hello" or "have a good day!"

And her words of advice for anyone suffering through a difficult time:

"I really encourage people to give themselves time. Crisis and despair sometimes comes in waves and so sometimes it's harder to handle that. But, if you will bear through that, you will feel different, a little bit, moving forward. Things sometimes look better tomorrow."

Anywhere in the South Carolina, you can dial 2-1-1 to reach a confidential, 24-hour support hotline. Trident United Way manages the hotline here in the Lowcountry.

At that number you can also find out about local support groups available for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

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