The West Brook Times
Depression and Suicide: Recognition of signs key to mental illness treatment, preventionMonday, May 19, 2003 By Mary Pharris
Depression is a chemical imbalance that can affect a person’s thoughts, feelings, physical health, and appearance according to SAVE.org. A combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors can all contribute to the development of a depressive illness. “Depression is anger turned inward. You’re angry at yourself,” said Chuck Ollis, Executive Director of the Samaritan Counseling Center of South East Texas. There are many types of depressive illnesses, all with various symptoms, duration, and degrees of severity. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), Unipolar Depression, Bipolar Illness or Manic Depression, Dysthymia, Cyclothymia, Atypical Depression, and Premenstrual Syndrome are all types of depressive illnesses. Many different symptoms such as: persistent sad or ‘empty’ mood, feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless, pessimistic, or guilty. Also, substance abuse, fatigue, loss of interest in ordinary activities, disturbances in eating and sleeping patterns, irritability, increased crying, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, and persistent physical symptoms or pains that do not respond to treatment accompany depressive illnesses according to SAVE.org. Depression can also stem from anger. “A person who suffers with depression often tries to blame others for their lack of success” said Ollis. Eventually, they run out of people to blame, which leads to resentment and anger towards themselves. A person suffering with depression may experience all or few of these symptoms. However, if a person suffers with four or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks a doctor of psychiatrist should be consulted. “Depression can become so severe,” said Ollis, “that a person may think death is the only way out. The brain chemistry is way off.” When the symptoms of depression are left untreated thoughts of suicide can often occur. Thoughts of suicide can often lead to attempts or actual suicide. There are many danger signs of suicide such as: talking or joking about suicide, preoccupation with death, suddenly happier, calmer, loss of interest, visiting or calling people one care’s about, and giving away possessions. It is reported that 95% of all suicides occur at the peak of a depressive episode according to SAVE.org. Depressive illnesses can distort a person’s thinking, which can often lead to irrational thoughts. People who often turn to suicide believe that nothing can ease their pain. They believe death is the only way to stop the pain. “I couldn’t understand why he didn’t feel like there was another way of dealing with his problems. I feel it was a selfish act,” said sophomore, Lauren Beck about her cousin who killed himself five years ago. Dealing with the suicide of a loved one can be extremely hard said Ollis. If someone feels that someone they know is depressed and/or suicidal it is important to ask them according to SAVE.org. If a person is thinking of suicide they will be relieved that someone is being open and nonjudgmental with them. It shows that someone sincerely cares about them according to SAVE.org. “Antidepressants help change the brain chemistry so a person won’t feel so low. Antidepressants help lift a person’s mood up,” said Ollis. There is treatment for depressive illness, which can help prevent suicide. There are many various ways to treat depression depending on the severity, type of illness, and a person’s age. Antidepressants and psychotherapy prove to be the quickest and most efficient means of treatment according to SAVE.org. Antidepressants are used to clear ones head for therapy sessions, and help correct the chemical imbalance or disruption in a person’s brain. Once a person’s brain is thinking more clearly, therapy can begin. “Therapy is a means of education that helps a person suffering with depression see how the world really is,” said Ollis.