Depression Hurts: Knowing the warning signs and risk factors can save a life
Feeling down and out can happen to anyone, but when the blues fade to black and your mood goes with it then it’s usually a sign that that something more invasive is crowding your ability to cope. Depression disorder occurs when feelings of sadness or lack of pleasure in normal activities last longer than 2 weeks, and often gets worse with time. The sadness turns to hopelessness, and no end is insight interfering with everyday life. Depression is the leading cause of mental illness next to anxiety affecting upwards of 7% or more of the population at any one time.
Knowing the warning signs can help a loved one, friend, or colleague. When depression worsens it can lead to suicidal thoughts and worse-suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention knowing the following signs and risk factors can save a life.
What leads to suicide?
There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors exceed current coping abilities of someone suffering from a mental health condition. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide. Yet it’s important to note that most people who actively manage their mental health conditions lead fulfilling lives.
Suicide Warning Signs
Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.
If a person talks about:
- Being a burden to others
- Feeling trapped
- Experiencing unbearable pain
- Having no reason to live
- Killing themselves
Specific things to look out for include:
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
- Acting recklessly
- Withdrawing from activities
- Isolating from family and friends
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
- Giving away prized possessions
People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:
- Loss of interest
Suicide Risk Factors
Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.
- Mental health conditions
- Bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
- Borderline or antisocial personality disorder
- Conduct disorder
- Psychotic disorders, or psychotic symptoms in the context of any disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
- Serious or chronic health condition and/or pain
- Stressful life events which may include a death, divorce, or job loss
- Prolonged stress factors which may include harassment, bullying, relationship problems, and unemployment
- Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
- Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide
- Previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide attempts