The Real Story- Depression and Suicide

Suicide and depression are topics that no one wants to talk about. But they real. And it’s something we need to spread awareness about.  As well as spread awareness on how people can get help when they feel like suicide is their only option.  According to the CDC there were nearly 43,000 suicides  in the US in 2014 and nearly 1.3 million suicide attempts. That averages out to avoid 113 suicides each day or one every 13 minutes!  That same year suicide was the 10th leading cause of death.  That number is very shocking! 

Depression, which is often times a contributing condition to suicide affects a large part of the population. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America there are about 15 million adults affected by depression in 2016. That 15million is about 6.7 percent of the population of those over 18 years of age. That is a HUGE number. Think of all the people you know, now think about how many of those people have admitted they do or have suffered from depression.  I would take a guess that you can’t think of more than a handful who have actually admitted it.  While looking at statistic it’s found that people who suffer from a chronic illness has a much high orevelance for depression than the average person.  The question is why is such a huge problem something that so few will talk about!??

Patients with chronic medical illnesses have been found to have two- to threefold higher rates of major depression compared with age- and gender-matched primary care patients.Rates of depression in primary care patients are between 5% and 10 %,8 whereas prevalence rates of depression in patients with diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD) have been estimated to be 12% to 18% and 15% to 23% respectively. (8)

People who suffer from depression may be seen as funny, outgoing, kind, cheerful and sweet on the outside. But on the inside they are filled with turmoil. They are oftentimes sad, and anxious and the last thing they want to do is be around people. As long as they can they will put on a brave face and pretend like nothing is wrong! Why? Because depression is often seen as taboo. Or as someone just whining and wanting attention.  And many times the person suffering from depression doesn’t talk about it because they don’t feel like they would like the response they would get from others. Or they just simply don’t realize that they are depressed (or as severely depressed as they are!)  Most people have no idea just how serious depression can be. Nor do they realize the problems depression can cause. 
Depression doesn’t always look like it is portrayed in the movies. People don’t just lay in bed for days and not shower. Depression can appear in many different ways.  Acording to the Mayo Clinic Website the following issues can all signs of depression. 

-Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness

-Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep

-Whole body: excessive hunger, fatigue, loss of appetite, or restlessness

-Behavioral: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, or social isolation

-Cognitive: lack of concentration, slowness in activity, or thoughts of suicide

-Weight: weight gain or weight loss

-Also common: poor appetite or repeatedly going over thoughts

So by looking at this list it’s clear that depression has many faces.  Now that we know what depression could look like, let’s take a look at what can happen as a result of untreated or poorly treated depression. Untreated depression can lead to many issues like problems at work, relationship issues, and it can slow down the recovery time for illness. Depression can also increase the chance of risky behaviors like alcohol &/or drug addiction.  A study was recently done with those who have clinical depression who also have had a stroke or have heart disease. They found that the patients with depression had a harder time following physicians orders and coping with their illness. They are had a more difficult time making healthcare decisions. Another study showed that those who are depressed have a much higher risk of dying in the first few months after having a heart attack.  

Do men and women react differently to untreated depression?  Yes, men often times will exhibit fear, anger and violent behavior more often then women. In addition a depressed male may make more bad decisions and participate more in reckless and dangerous activity like reckless driving or unprotected sexual activity. 

How do you treat depression? What are the options?  Well, there are a lot of options for treatment. One of the biggest, other than medications, is therapy. It is thought that is the client can sit and talk to someone who isn’t invested, like family or friends, it will be highly beneficial. As they are able to get their feelings out and talk about things they wouldn’t want to, or feel comfortable talking to their friends and family with. Options for therapy include: Cognitive behavioral therapy, Behavior therapy, and Psychotherapy. Another option for treatment is medications that fall intothe following categories: SSRI which eases the symptoms of depressed mood and anxiety. (Zoloft or lexapro). Antidepressants which prevents or relieves depression and elevates moods. (Wellbutrin or Effexor). Anxiolytic which can Relieve anxiety and tension. May promote sleep. (Buspirone). And lastly Antipsychotic which Reduces or improves the symptoms of certain psychiatric conditions. (Abilify) 

According to Web MD nearly 90% of all who commit suicide have a history of clinical depression or some kind of mental health issues. Many times those who die by suicide also have some sort of addiction, like alcohol or drug addictions. Depression is a risk factor for suicide along with the list below. 

RISK FACTORS FOR SUICIDE:

-One or more prior suicide attempts

-Family history of mental disorder or substance abuse

-Family history of suicide

-Family violence

-Physical or sexual abuse

-Keeping firearms in the home

-Chronic physical illness, including chronic pain

-Incarceration

-Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others

Those are risk factors that can lead to suicide. Now here are warning signs to watch for in someone you think is very depressed and possibly suicidal. 

WARNING SIGNS:

-Always talking or thinking about death

-Clinical depression — deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating — that gets worse

-Having a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights

-Losing interest in things one used to care about

-Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless

-Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will

-Saying things like “it would be better if I wasn’t here” or “I want out”

-Sudden, unexpected switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy

-Talking about suicide or killing one’s self

-Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

-Be especially concerned if a person is exhibiting any of these warning signs and has attempted suicide in the past. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, between 20% and 50% of people who commit suicide have had a previous attempt.

So now we know what depression may look like or present itself. And that depression along with other issues are a risk factor for suicide, We have also looked at warning signs to watch for in someone who is depressed or possibly suicidal. But how we can we help prevent suicide? 

First and foremost if you have a person in your life that is talking about suicide ALWAYS TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY!!! If you can sit down and talk with the person face to face. Find out if they have an actual plan. But don’t argue with them about their plan or about suicide in general. Talk with them and make sure that they know you care about them and that you are listening. You should ALWAYS AVOID statements like “Oh you have so much to live for!” Try to find out if the person has ever received mental health care and if they are currently being treated by a mental professional. And if the person has a real plan and you know that they will most likely implement that plan do your best to get them help as quickly as possible.  

Where can I get help for a suicidal friend or family member?  Locally you can always take them to the nearest ER. Or if you don’t feel comfortable transporting or they will not allow you to, you can always call your local law enforcement.  They have been trained and know how to talk to and deal with a suicidal person.  You can also call the suicide help line Call 800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433) or 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or the deaf hotline at 800-799-4889.  You can call these number anytime day or night. There will always be someone on the other end to help you. 

Depression is a serious condition and should not be looked at or treated lightly. Like noted above 90% of all the people who commit suicide have depression or some kind of mental illness.  In this post you were provided with the signs and symptoms of depression, risk factors for suicide and behaviors to watch for that often will precede suicide. If you have any questions or concerns alway contact your primary health provide or a mental health provider. And remember to never blow off someone who is talking about committing suicide because they may actually take those actions.  

-Amber 

Resources:
1. https://www.adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
2. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5672782

3.http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/29569/1/the-real-reasons-we-are-silent-about-depression

4.https://www.gstatic.com/healthricherkp/pdf/major_depression.pdf

5.http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/untreated-depression-effects

6.http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-recognizing-signs-of-suicide

7.https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.pdf

8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181964/

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