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Can Depression Really Kill You?

Many people with depression find treatment plans that allow them to live a fulfilling life. And while that is the goal of most people, there are unfortunately those who feel there is no hope. Some researchers consider depression the killing disease, as there are fatalities in some who suffer from it. Those people feel that suicide is the only answer to their problems. Can depression can kill you? With treatment, the outlook is much brighter, and we can help.

The Risks of Suicide

One of the leading causes of death in the United States is suicide. In 2017, suicide was one of the top 10 causes of death, and it remains one of the leading reasons people die.

The American Association of Suicidology estimates that depression is present in about half of all suicides.

Unfortunately, these rates of suicide have increased throughout the years in almost every state. And this has been true for the past 17 years — almost two decades. It is important to note that many who die from suicide had not been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

There are a variety of factors that contribute to the act of deliberately killing oneself. These include:

  • Relationship issues
  • A crisis either right before the suicide or within the previous two weeks
  • Problematic substance abuse
  • Physical health problems
  • A job or financial-related issues
  • Legal issues (typically criminal)
  • Loss of housing

There are also warning factors. If you or someone you love is feeling these effects, please get help as soon as possible.

  • Making suicidal plans
  • Feeling like a burden
  • Discussing wanting to die (this includes posting about it or talking to others)
  • Isolation
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Feeling extreme emotional pain
  • Feeling trapped
  • Extreme hopelessness
  • Increased substance abuse
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Searching for lethal means
  • An increase in anger or rage

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Illnesses and Depression

There are a few sicknesses linked to depression. For some, the weight of dealing with a chronic issue compounds the feelings of sadness. In fact, those people are more apt to have a depressive disorder. And certain health conditions actually contribute to depression authentically. For example, those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease or a stroke may experience brain alterations that supply depression and depressive thoughts.

An example is someone with terminal cancer. Researchers believe that those with a terminal condition have depression at a rate that is almost 80 percent. These people don’t feel they have control over the lives or even their own bodies. And if those who have a terminal illness have other risk factors, then they are even more apt to have suicidal thoughts. These other risk factors include:

  • Family history of depression
  • Experiences with suicidal attempts
  • Addiction
  • Social stress
  • Substance abuse

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression can be common in people with illnesses including:

  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Heart disease
  • Epilepsy

Increased risk of Health Conditions

On the opposite side, those with depression seem to be more at risk for health conditions. Certain illnesses may present themselves after a depression diagnosis. This includes illnesses like heart disease or diabetes. And we know that the combination of certain diseases and depression puts a person at a higher risk of mortality. For example, a person with an illness by itself has a lower risk of mortality than someone who has depression along with an illness like those mentioned above.

Those with illnesses experience things like:

  • Panic
  • Anxiety
  • Disbelief
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Bitterness
  • Frustration
  • Sadness
  • Vulnerability
  • Loneliness
  • Peace
  • Acceptance

According to Very Well Mind:

We still need further research to explore the connection between depression and other medical conditions. Some suggested theories include the fact that it may be more difficult for people with depression to take care of their health and they may have less access to medical care. Physiological changes such as increased inflammation and alterations in stress hormones may also play a role.

What some people may not realize is the fact that depression is a systemic condition. This illness doesn’t just affect your mind, it affects your entire body. Suicide one way that people respond to it, but it also shortens the lifespan of those with it. While it took 20 years for the recognition, the American Heart Association now lists depression as a heart disease risk factor.

Patients with depression can also have bleeding diathesis, which means their blood doesn’t clot as well. In those with non-treated depression, the risk of blood clots is higher. Someone who is depressed also has a higher rate of inflammation than a person who isn’t.

Complications from Extreme Sadness and Depressive Disorders

One issue or complications of depression or sadness is a difficulty in doing the things you need to do. This includes choices in your lifestyle. For example, it is harder to make the right decisions when you are depressed. Should you exercise or eat right? Of course. But those who experience feelings of severe sadness find it harder to make the right decisions for their health. It doesn’t mean they do not want to eat right or be active; it means it is physically harder for them to do so. A person feeling depression may not have the energy to get up and go to the gym or fix a healthy meal.

Even substance abuse and drinking are habits affected by how we feel. A person suffering from a depressive disorder may reach for a drink or use a drug to get rid of the feelings of sadness or hopelessness. Sometimes you may feel it’s easier to hide your sorrow behind a certain drug or glass of alcohol. While this is a temporary fix, it may seem like the right one at the right time.

According to studies by the government, the long-term results of major depression show a 2 percent suicide rate. In those treated as inpatients for prior depressive issues, the rate doubles to 4 percent. And in those with previous suicidal tendencies, the rate increases to approximately 6 percent.

Collaborative Treatment Options

Treatment that focuses on depression and other illnesses and lifestyle changes is effective. This type of collaborative treatment works to manage coexisting conditions — not just depression or a specific disease. Another alarming number is for those who have a mood disorder. The suicide rates are at 60 percent in those with dysthymia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder. These are people who committed suicide, and that ratio showcases how many had disorders before their death.

This treatment option may include things like counseling, medication, or a combination of the two. There are studies showcasing how antidepressants combined with psychotherapy is effective in the treatment of depression. But not only that, it also helps those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes.

A collaborative treatment approach is important because sometimes the depression may be the root cause. For example, sometimes a thyroid condition treatment can help those suffering with depression. In this case, treatment for one issue helps with the other.

Getting Help

There is help for someone suffering with depression. It is difficult to go it alone, and not everyone can weather all the storms that come with depression. For those with other health issues, it is even more difficult. Yet, we help you live a life that is easier to handle.

If you or a loved one are suffering from depression, Transformations offers psychotherapy options and medication-assisted treatment designed to provide unique treatment options for each client’s specific needs. We understand the importance of individualized care, and we want you to experience hope and live a life with fewer debilitating symptoms.