Mood disorders are among the most common chronic health conditions affecting human beings.
According to the National Institutes of Health, in the United States, more than 16 million adults and more than 12 million adolescents experienced at least one episode of major depression last year. This represents 6.7 percent of the adult population and 12.5 percent of the adolescent population.
People with depression often experience sadness, sleep problems, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, guilt feelings, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, appetite changes and irritability.
Another symptom of depression is suicidal thoughts.
Suicide is a real public health problem with real solutions. The solution begins with a greater understanding of the causes and potential treatments for depression.
Like depression, suicide is a complex issue. Typically, there is no single cause or event that leads to suicidal thoughts or behavior. It is important for those suffering from depression and for those who love them to understand that there is hope. There are resources available to overcome suicidal thoughts and to aid recovery.
Many, though not all, people experiencing depression who are at risk for suicidal thoughts may display warning signs, which can lead loved ones to encourage them to seek help.
Examples of these warning signs include;Talking about wanting to die.Looking for a way to kill oneself.Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose.Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain.Talking about being a burden to others.Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly.Sleeping too little or too much.Withdrawing or feeling isolated.Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.Displaying extreme mood swings.The more of these warning signs a person shows, the greater the risk. While warning signs may be associated with suicidal thoughts, they may not be the cause of suicidal behavior.
The National Institute of Mental Health advocates five action steps for helping someone in emotional pain;
1. Ask if the person is thinking about suicide. This simple first step has not been found to increase suicidal thoughts or behavior.
2. Keep the person safe by reducing their access to dangerous items or places.
3. Be there to listen carefully and learn what the person is thinking and feeling.
4. Help the person connect to resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
5. Stay connected with the person, even after a crisis seems to have lessened.
Depression and suicide have touched the lives of so many families and communities. No one should have to experience this type of pain and suffering. It is important for those experiencing suicidal thoughts, as well as those who observe the warning signs in their loved ones, to know that there is hope.
If you or someone you know are experiencing emotional pain or suicidal thoughts, please seek help.
Dr. Matthew A. Clark is a board-certified physician in internal medicine and pediatrics practicing at the Ute Mountain Ute Health Center in Towaoc.