Depression is a mental illness that causes a profound effect on a person’s mood, thoughts, and behavior. It is often characterized by feelings of persistent sadness, low mood, and lack of motivation and affects over 21 million American adults in any given year.
People with depression may also experience:
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- A negative outlook on life
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Changes in appetite or sleep patterns
- Reduced energy levels
- Irritability and anger outbursts
- Mood swings
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
Depression and Suicidal Ideation
Suicidal ideation is thinking about or planning to commit suicide. It can range from fleeting thoughts to detailed plans of how and when suicide will be carried out. Depression can cause serious emotional and psychological distress, which may result in suicidal ideations or thoughts of self-harm.
When combined with the negative thoughts and altered perception of reality that are common in mental illnesses like depression, it’s easy to see how someone might believe that suicide is the only way to end their emotional suffering.
And while depression can be a major contributing factor in some cases of suicide or attempted suicide, not everyone with depression will experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Suicidal ideation and other related complications like suicide or attempted suicide are often more prevalent in cases of long-term or untreated depression.
Warning Signs of Suicidal Ideation
If you’re concerned that someone you know might be experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are some warning signs to look out for. These include:
- Talking about wanting to die or hurt oneself
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness
- Withdrawing from friends and activities
- Increased alcohol or drug abuse
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Giving away prized possessions
- Preoccupation with death or morbid topics
- Acting recklessly and engaging in risky behavior
- Unexplained physical aches and pains
If you notice any of these warning signs in someone, it’s important to take them seriously and reach out for help. Early intervention and treatment can help prevent suicide and save a life. If a person is in immediate danger of committing suicide, call 911 or the 988 Suicide & Crisis lifeline for immediate assistance.
Treating Depression And Suicidal Ideation
In most cases, treating depression can significantly reduce the risk of suicidal ideation and other complications. There are a variety of treatment options available, including:
Medication: Antidepressants can help to stabilize mood, reduce symptoms and alleviate depression. Commonly prescribed medications for depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Psychotherapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy can help people with depression address the underlying cause of their condition and develop healthy coping strategies to manage symptoms and emotions.
Lifestyle Modalities and Self-Care: Making healthy changes to one’s lifestyle and engaging in activities like exercise, yoga, art therapy, mindfulness meditation, and journaling can help people with depression become more in tune with their emotions and better manage their symptoms.
Depression is a serious mental illness that can lead to suicidal ideation in some people. However, it’s vital to remember that not everyone who experiences depression will have suicidal thoughts.
Still, it’s crucial to be aware of the warning signs and seek help as soon as possible if you or someone close to you is displaying symptoms of depression or suicidal ideation. With early intervention and treatment, it is possible to manage depression and reduce the risk of suicidality.