Truly, there is nothing shameful about asking for help. However, some people still feel like it’s taboo for them to openly discuss their problems, mental health issues, and the emotional turmoil they might be going through. So they close up and try to repress these things. However, there are some subtle cues to look out for that can tell you when somebody might need your help. Whether they’re simply looking for some sympathy or they desperately need your advice.
The friendly folks over on Reddit went above and beyond this time and listed the various signs that they found to actually be cries for help. Frankly, it’s completely eye-opening. And it made a lot of people realize that they may have missed a lot of silent pleas for help. Have a read through the top answers below and upvote the ones that you think are particularly accurate. Got any other signs to share with us? Let us know in the comment section, dear Pandas.
I reached out to redditor IncessantlyBored about their viral thread and had an in-depth talk with them about the importance of noticing these subtle cries for help. The redditor explained to Bored Panda that the pandemic and lockdowns have had very powerful negative effects on some of their friends’ mental health.
“I came up with the question because I was genuinely curious as to the answer. I spent the last 16 months sheltered, like many people, alone in my house not seeing many friends or family because of the pandemic. Now that we are all vaccinated and going out and about again, I’ve noticed that some of my friends have changed. Some seem more withdrawn. Some seem to be struggling. It’s like the 16 months of solitude had lasting effects that didn’t end post-pandemic,” IncessantlyBored opened up to Bored Panda.
Lack of interest. Gamer all of a sudden no longer games? Gardener let his plants die? Social butterfly now hides in a cave?
When someone is constantly busy so they don’t give themselves time to think. Also, when someone gives up on a lot of basic things like cleaning or washing up because they can’t think about anything except what’s bothering them.
Redditor IncessantlyBored shared that they started the thread on r/AskReddit as a way to educate themselves about depression. “I don’t consider myself well-educated on what depression looks like and/or red flags for mental illness issues, so I wanted to see what other people had to say.”
What’s more, the redditor also had a very personal reason for wanting to know what the non-obvious signs of depression are. “I also had a coworker in 2018 who did a no-call no-show one day, and we found out she had taken her own life. I was completely shocked. I had no idea she was struggling with depression. But I’m sure there were signs if I had known what to look for. The day I posted my question, we had another no-call no-show at work, and I couldn’t help but remember my coworker in 2018,” they were candid about the inspiration behind their thread.
When someone has obviously been crying or tears up without apparent provocation, even in a very public setting, it can be a sign that they’re in too much pain even to try masking it.
Reaching out and being overly nice to friends both close and casual with the hope that they will reciprocate and eventually ask them how they’re doing, so that when they open up it’s not about being a burden, but because they were prompted to do so.
IncessantlyBored said that they had no idea that their question would get so much attention online. “I posted it one night and when I woke up the next day, it was on the front page. It currently has over 7,000 comments. The question clearly resonated with a lot of people either feeling like they were exhibiting cries for help or knowing someone who is. As we emerge in the post-pandemic world, it’s helpful to know the warning signs of what to look for so that we can catch them in the people around us and hopefully get them the help they need,” they shared with Bored Panda.
In the redditor’s opinion, education and awareness both go a long way in teaching us how to react when we realize that someone from our social circle is in need of our help. “Many people may be struggling without knowing how to tell someone or how to get out of their rut. Having a friend or family member who can recognize the pain and can reach out and offer to help could be the first step on a journey to improvement,” IncessantlyBored said.
It may seem a bit obvious, but when someone says that they don’t see themselves living past a certain age, or acting surprised that they made it to a certain milestone in their lives.
Coming from personal experience, I often cared massively for other people and their well-being, hoping that they would do the same for me. In the midst of this I became ‘the helper’ yet I found myself never being helped. I suppose in a way you stop caring for yourself and start only caring for others.
The redditor was very glad that their question had such a powerful impact and started up so many discussions. “It may have also made some people realize that maybe they don’t have to do the struggle alone, and that there are others out there who care. I learned a lot from the answers to my question, and I will definitely be more aware around my friends, family, and coworkers. Who knows—maybe the heightened awareness will save someone’s life.”
The insightful thread resonated with a lot of people. The redditor’s post got more than 37.4k upvotes and 175 awards in 2 days. It was the top awarded post on r/AskReddit and on the front page of Reddit at the time of writing.
What IncessantlyBored showed us is that some people might feel too scared or ashamed to ask for help outright; meanwhile, the average person might not pick up on some of these subtle signs. It takes a keen eye to spot these cues and behaviors.
The person stops caring about their appearance and neglects their hygiene and grooming because in their mind they are thinking, ‘It doesn’t matter, so why bother?’
When they start cutting off contact. If that outgoing, happy person suddenly ‘just isn’t up to it,’ or always says, ‘Maybe some other time,’ then something is wrong.
Second hand suicide, when they joke about being killed in an accident. This is usually because they feel there are people in life who need them and they don’t want to commit suicide themselves.
Earlier, I had a chat about feelings of isolation and depression with Emma Morton from the University of British Columbia. Emma explained to Bored Panda in an earlier interview that it’s incredibly important that you seek professional help if you’re having suicidal thoughts and aren’t sure if you can keep yourself from harm.
“Like any other health crisis, there may be times when you need the support of a doctor or health professional to navigate the situation safely,” she said.
“However, it can be hard to know what to do when you are in the middle of overwhelming and distressing thoughts, so coming up with a safety plan ahead of time with important phone numbers (such as a crisis hotline or trusted friend), ways to keep the environment safe (e.g., removing means of suicide or substances that can increase your risk like alcohol), and strategies that can help distract or soothe you is important,” Emma detailed what we should do in times of crisis.
A reduction in food consumption. I’ve found when I’ve fallen down the hole and I just stop caring anymore I don’t eat anywhere near as much as I normally do. Instead of having the standard 3-4 meal things a day I’ll be lucky to convince myself to have 2 as I simply don’t care anymore
Emma suggested that keeping an actual ‘hope box’ can help soothe us during times of distress. Inside the box, you can put things that will help calm you down or distract you. Another thing that you can add is a list of reasons to keep living. What’s more, thinking about how you’d help your friends through depression can also give you reasons to keep going.
“In the long run, working with a psychologist or other mental health professionals to identify healthy ways to cope with stress and develop more flexible and self-compassionate thought patterns is key to maintaining good mental health,” Emma told Bored Panda.
Becoming attached to objects or other non-human things is one I have noticed quite a lot about some people I know who have struggled.
Sudden drastic improvement in mood of a depressed person, it could be a sign they have a plan to commit suicide and feel better because they know it’s gonna end soon.
Purposely avoiding sad and difficult topics. Sometimes when a person is constantly feeling like s**t, the last thing they want to do is bring up more negativity when hanging out with people they enjoy being around. Oftentimes being with friends/family can be a brief escape from always feeling awful, and so bringing up negative topics can ruin this feeling of escape and make the depression feel never-ending and suffocating.
Becoming withdrawn is a very common one. Self-deprecating humour is something you should watch out for, too. It’s often a sign of depression/anxiety.
Being more silent than usual. A lot of people miss it, or out of of as being ignorant. No that person is struggling and scared of judgement or abandonment.
Bad decisions looking for short term happiness with no regard for how it will damage their life in the long run.
Getting a neck tattoo, buying a Mitsubishi, that sort of thing.
People that are suffering and feeling isolated will start to lose their ability to thermoregulate. They will feel cold all the time. This will lead them to wear extra layers or heavier clothes than would be normal for conditions, taking longer hotter showers, always the first to grab a throw to cuddle under. There’s a potential evolutionary reason for it, if you’re feeling lonely and isolated, then your body telling you that you’re cold will force you to get closer to those in your pack to stay warm. Close physical proximity encourages better bonding. Better bonding ends loneliness.
Now, some people are what we in The North call “freeze babies”, that is to say that they just don’t tolerate the cold. And some people are really like that. Some people just are colder than the rest of us. But if you’re at, say, the beach and everyone’s out in their swimsuits because it’s just too damn hot otherwise, but you see someone off by themselves in a sweater and pants looking pensive, nervous… that person’s going through some [stuff].
Reckless behavior. It’s not always “funny” or badass. There is often a “nothing matters anymore” thought behind or a deep feeling of emtyness which can be filled for a short time with risky behavior.
Leaving a group of people, sometimes even online, without an obvious reason. Some people tend to go away or even push away because they want to see if there is an opposite reaction, like testing if they are still wanted in a situation. Not all people who isolate want to be alone.
When somebody acts like they hadn’t much time left, even if they seem to have. Not really a cry for help, but maybe a suicide red flag. I do it myself. I often stress about how I want to do some things in a small ammount of time because I really don’t plan living past a year from now.
Marked differences in behavior where the person becomes way more positive and energetic than normal. We tend to think of these sorts of changes as being good, but any sudden and large enough change in behavior is something you need to keep an eye on. This is especially true if they are going from a very negative pattern of thinking/behavior into an uber-positive one very quickly.