Depression and Suicide: What’s the Connection?
Over 41,000 people die by suicide each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness; there is one death by suicide in the United States every 13 minutes. September is Suicide Prevention Month, and for Pasadena Villa, it is an especially important topic, as depression is the most common underlying mental illness that leads to suicide, with 30%-70% of suicide victims suffering from a major depressive disorder.
Depression is more serious than just feeling sad, it is a serious mental health disorder that includes intense sadness with feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and hopelessness that can last for days to weeks at a time, and keeps an individual from functioning normally. Depression requires understanding and medical care; if left untreated, depression can have a devastating effect. Some may only experience a depressive episode once in their lives, for most a depressive disorder recurs, without treatment it can last a few months to several years.
Depression can have different symptoms, depending on the person. For most that suffer from a depressive episode, it can change their day-to-day functioning and can include symptoms such as:
- Changes in sleep
- Changes in appetite
- Lack of concentration
- Loss of energy
- Lack of interest in activities
- Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
- Changes in movement (less activity or agitation)
- Physical aches and pains
- Suicidal thoughts
A primary cause of suicide is depression, as people who feel suicidal are often overwhelmed by painful emotions and see death as their only choice, losing sight that it is a permanent way to a temporary state of mind. Part of opening the dialogue around suicide is being able to recognize the warning signs in the people around us and knowing what actions to take.
General warning signs of suicide include:
- Discussion surrounding wanting to die or having suicidal thoughts
- Researching various methods of suicide
- Feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
- Sense of being a burden to others
- Increase in reckless behaviors
- Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
- Extreme mood swings
- Excessive sleep or no sleep
- Sudden shift in mood to one of happy and content (usually seen once a decision has been made to act on the ideation)
- Increases in anxiety and agitation
- Increased use of substances
- Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable
- Giving away possessions
Shying away from discussing suicide can lead to further isolation and disconnection in an individual. It is our responsibility to ask the uncomfortable questions, listen to what they say, and help them seek help if they need it. Suicidal thoughts can be difficult to comprehend but work towards understanding your loved one and respond with empathy and concern. If you are struggling with depression and having suicidal thoughts, it is crucial to reach out and talk to someone, be open and honest about your feelings.
Suicide is preventable, and early identification of depression is key to suicide prevention. At Pasadena Villa, we treat depression through medication and psychotherapy. Pasadena Villa’s Social Integration Model™ is a treatment environment that encourages positive social functioning. Using an individualized treatment plan, we help clients in relieving the stress that comes from assimilating back into everyday life and help them achieve the highest levels of functioning and independent living once they leave treatment.
In conjunction with social integration, we use cognitive therapy to defuse negative thoughts and treat depression. A type of psychotherapy, cognitive therapy changes mood patterns by stopping negative, hypercritical, and other types of thinking that can lead to depression, anxiety, and other conditions. Individuals learn to recognize negative thoughts, leading to a correction of deeply held false beliefs that lead to depression. Research has found that cognitive therapy works as well as antidepressants in treating people with mild to moderate depression.
The possibility of relapse is high, and multiple interventions and long-term treatment are needed to ensure long-term success. One of the symptoms of depression is suicidal thoughts, and there are ways to respond with strength and courage. Depression is treatable, and suicide is preventable. We use the most advanced and effective methods available to ensure our client’s needs are met.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal ideation or displaying warning signs, it is important to seek help. Finding the proper treatment is necessary and can vary based on individual needs.
If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255 for additional support.
If you or a loved one have questions regarding depression, Pasadena Villa Psychiatric Network of Services can help. Call us at 877-845-5235 or complete our contact form to help with the next steps of treatment. Pasadena Villa currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina.