Suicidal Thoughts and Depression
Understanding Depression--It's Real and It Hurts
Major depression is considered the most serious kind of diagnosed depression due to the constellation and tenacity of symptoms. Warning signs of a major depressive disorder include suicide ideation, overwhelming fatigue, and debilitating feelings of hopelessness, sadness and guilt.
Individuals suffering from major depression may need to be hospitalized when medications and counseling does not help them regain their lives. Although an individual can be depressed but not suicidal, most people who are hospitalized due to severe clinical depression symptoms have threatened or tried to commit suicide.
Different Types of Depression
Dysthymic disorder is a low to moderate depression condition diagnosed when someone is affected with this type of depression for at least two years. Although symptoms are generally not severe enough to significantly impact a person's life, it can reduce quality of life and isolate the individual from friends and family. Frequently, a person with dysthymic disorder has suffered from moderate depression for so long they simply think it is part of their personality rather than a treatable, real disorder.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, symptoms of dysthymic disorder are:
- Feeling depressed most days for at least two years
- Low self-esteem
- Extremes of appetite
- Chronic fatigue
- Frequently feeling pessimistic or hopeless
Depression precipitated by dysthymic disorder is one of the more difficult depression types to treat. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy is often employed to teach dysthymic individuals how to effectively cope with stress. Talk therapy may eventually reveal the root cause of their chronic depression as well, which can then be addressed with appropriate treatment plans.
Bipolar depression refers to the "down" sides of mood swings experienced by individuals with bipolar disorder. Someone who suffers from bipolar disorder periodically undergoes extreme manic periods where they exhibit reckless and dangerous behavior that often causes serious problems in their lives. Gambling, maxing out credit cards, acting on grandiose ideas that are clearly irrational and engaging in promiscuity are frequent behaviors seen in people with bipolar disorder.
Manic phases eventually bottom out into a severe depressive state, totally unlike the previous state of mind. It is during this phase that clinical depression symptoms affect bipolar individuals, who may experience suicide ideation due to feeling even more guilty and despondent over the problems they may have caused during their manic phase.
Am I Depressed?
Several types of depression screening tests exist such as the Beck Depression Inventory or the Standard Geriatric Depression Scale. However, all contain questions that ask the same fundamental queries regarding the severity, length, and details of someone's clinical depression symptoms. Typical questions include:
- Have you recently thought about suicide, or how your family and friends would react if you were to commit suicide?
- Do you find yourself sleeping more or less than usual in the past two weeks?
- Have you missed work or school due to feeling extremely depressed?
- Have you spent whole days in bed doing nothing but watching television or sleeping?
- Do you find yourself crying for no reason at any time of the day?
The Biology of Depression
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter most responsible for the manifestation of depression signs in all depression types. This is why selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are routinely prescribed to the majority of patients suffering from depression. Antidepressants, or SSRIs, allow defective neuronal receptors to release serotonin back into the brain rather than inhibit it. Because the majority of brain cells are influenced by serotonin in one way or another, a deficiency or overflow of serotonin will affect various aspects of mood, sleep, attention, appetite, social behavior, and memory.
Depression and Coping with Suicidal Thoughts
Managing clinical depression symptoms can be accomplished by learning how to successfully cope with stress through professional counseling, taking prescribed medication as directed and understanding how your thoughts directly impact your perceptions of yourself and of the world.