Studies have found that depression and suicide are directly correlated. The presence of a high-degree depressive disorder usually indicates a higher suicide risk in patients, while successful treatment of depression lowers patients' suicide risk. If untreated, depression can lower an individual's self-worth, making suicide seem more favorable. The symptoms of depression themselves can also factor into the development of suicidal thoughts. In this respect, therapy for depression is often utilized as a method for suicide prevention.
Depression is a mood disorder that can come in several forms. The link between depression and suicide is most often exhibited in major depression, a debilitating condition that can significantly reduce the perceived value of an individual's own life. Patients with major depression can find themselves perceiving life as a downward spiral of worsening problems, and they can only find relief by taking their own lives.
Signs of major clinical depression include a decreased ability to experience or seek out pleasure, loss of mental acuity, and regularly-occurring spells of intense sadness. Patients with major depression also report sleep disorders, either in the form of insomnia or sleeping too much. These symptoms can lead to other reactionary problems, such as significant weight fluctuation and intense fatigue. All these conditions contribute to the link between depression and suicide, as they make life increasingly unbearable for the patient.
Suicidal thoughts are considered the most serious symptom of depression. Unlike other signs of the mood disorder like weight loss, thoughts of suicide often have no visible manifestation. Patients often keep suicidal thoughts to themselves for fear of judgment and social ostracism, among other repercussions. Some experts even argue that outwardly-expressed suicidal thoughts, though a cause for alarm, are less serious than private thoughts of suicide. Individuals who talk about the desire to commit suicide are often indirectly asking for help, whereas those suffering from depression and suicide in private make no moves to get assistance.
Depression and suicide prevention are often treated through a combination of psychological counseling and a strong everyday support system. Patients with major depression need professional help to identify the cause of their depression and eventually discuss ways to resolve the issue. Support systems composed of family, friends, and peers help prevent any possible suicide attempts and encourage patients to continue their treatment. Some cases of depression require medical treatment as well, especially when the patient's depression and suicide consideration arise from anomalies in his brain chemistry. Drugs such as Prozac® help boost a patient's serotonin levels, improving her ability to feel pleasure and happiness.