Derek Hough is imploring those going through depression or difficult times to seek the help they need.
In an Instagram video he shared on Friday, the “Dancing With the Stars” judge is asking those experiencing depressive thoughts during this time of year to allow others to be there for them.
“Reach out, say something,” Hough said. “I know what it feels like when you’re in that dark hole, that it will just not ever get better. And I’m telling you right now, I promise you, it does. It has to get better.”
Hough’s video comes just days after his friend, DJ, choreographer and television personality Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss died by suicide. Hough also mentions in the video that someone he knew died by suicide on Thanksgiving morning.
“Learning about Stephen and the fact that he went the exact same way as this man, within just a few weeks — it’s just heartbreaking, confusing, shocking,” Hough said. “There’s so many different feelings and trying to figure it out.”
“Two extraordinary, extraordinary men leave us in the exact same way within a few weeks, it’s heartbreaking,” he added. “It’s too much.”
Hough continued his message by putting a spotlight on seasonal depression and how some are feeling a certain way around this time of the year.
“Just know that you’re not alone,” he said. “And when I say that you’re not alone, I’m saying that people are feeling those feelings right now. They’re having those thoughts, they’re having those fears, those anxieties there. They’re experiencing them right now and you are not alone.”
The National Institute of Mental Health describes seasonal affective disorder as short periods of time, around season changes, where people feel sad or not like their usual selves. Specifically, when these mood changes affect how a person feels, thinks, and is able to function in their daily life. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression, and symptoms last about 4-5 months of the year.
“Sometimes, these mood changes begin and end when the seasons change,” according to the NIMH. People may start to feel “down” when the days get shorter in the fall and winter (also called ‘winter blues’) and begin to feel better in the spring, with longer daylight hours.
Signs of seasonal affective disorder may include feeling depressed most of the day nearly every day, losing interest in activities you used to enjoy, feeling sluggish or having low energy, among others. Another symptom could be having frequent thoughts of death, self-harm or suicide.
The NIH adds that millions of American adults may suffer from SAD, though many may not know they have the condition. Scientists don’t fully understand what causes SAD, according to the NIH. But SAD can be treated with antidepressant medications, light therapy, psychotherapy and vitamin D.
Hough ended his video by reminding those experiencing depression that “we’re not meant to figure this all out by ourselves.”
“We’re meant to figure it out together,” Hough said. “The fact and the truth is that it’s not slowing down, it’s not getting better, and that we need to talk about it. We need to be there for each other. And we need to feel safe to open up.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. Free, confidential help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You are not alone.