Life + Career Physician Wellness Wellness Toolkit Depression & Suicide

Depression & Suicide

Healers in crisis

Learn to recognize the signs of physician depression & suicidal ideation

Identifying the problem is the first step toward prevention and recovery. Learn how to recognize signs of depression and suicidal ideation.

Depression is a mood disorder that makes one feel constant sadness or lack of interest in life.

Suicidal idealization is thinking about, considering, or planning suicide (the contemplation of ending one’s own life). People who feel completely hopeless or believe they can no longer cope with their life situation may have suicidal thoughts. (Source: National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Whether you feel sad, depressed, or have suicidal thoughts, help is available. The information below will guide you in recognizing what you may be feeling.

Signs of sadness and depression

Sadness is only a small part of depression. Some people with depression may not feel sadness at all. Depression has many other symptoms, including physical ones. If you have been experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, isolation.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts.
  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or difficulty sleeping.
  • Difficult with concentrating, remembering, and making decisions.
  • Persistent physical symptoms.
  • Appetite and/or weight changes.
  • Restlessness and/or irritability.

Signs of suicidal thoughts

If you have experienced any of the depression signs listed above and any suicide warning signs below, please seek advice from a healthcare professional. One or more of the below feelings could be present, or maybe none.

  • Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves.
  • Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live.
  • Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun.
  • Talking about great guilt or shame.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions.
  • Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain).
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Using alcohol or drugs more often.
  • Acting anxious or agitated.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Changing eating and/or sleeping habits.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Taking significant risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast.
  • Talking or thinking about death often.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy.
  • Giving away important possessions.
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family. 
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