Depression and suicide are two very serious issues in today’s society. It is important to understand more about depression as this illness, if left untreated, can lead to suicide.
Depression is a mental health condition that severely affects the way a person feels, thinks and acts daily. This condition leaves people feeling sad, lonely, isolated and full of despair – these feelings can lead to thoughts of suicide. No one should ever be ashamed to admit that they are suffering from this disorder, as it is common and research shows that at least one in six South Africans suffers from anxiety or depression.
There are some key symptoms which are directly related to depression, these include:
What is the cause of depression? This is a common question but the answer is not simple, as there are many factors which are involved – the first being biological. It is believed that depression is an imbalance in the naturally occurring substances in the brain and spinal cord known as neuro-transmitters. Serotonin and norepinephrine are the two main neurotransmitters that are related to the symptoms of depression.
Other factors include genetic characteristics, medical conditions such as an underactive thyroid and heart disease as well as certain medication such as blood pressure and sleeping pills. Environmental factors such the loss of a job or loved one, divorce or early childhood trauma are also linked to depression as well as changes in hormone levels or substance abuse.
The good news is that if you identify the symptoms early enough and seek treatment, you will be on the road to recovery. Treatment includes therapy or medication or a combination of both.
It is a good idea to offer emotional and physical support to friends and family with depression by helping out with lifts, accompanying them to the doctor, regular phone calls and visits to check in on their progress.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from any of these symptoms please urge them to seek help. For immediate help you can call the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 0800 12 13 14.
Suicide is closely related to depression as those who don’t seek help become overcome by sadness feeling like there is no hope and resort to taking their own lives, leaving behind devastated family and friends.
Teenage suicide in South Africa has steadily increased over the years. Suicide in children between the ages of 10-14 has doubled in the last fifteen years and research shows that it is the cause of 8% of all deaths. After hearing this, it is even more important to look out for the various signs and symptoms that can be linked to suicide as identifying these symptoms early on could save a life.
Warning signs for at-risk individuals:
There are many conditions and factors that can increase a person’s risk of suicide and the most common characteristics shared by those attempting suicide are:
People who have suicidal thoughts are not trying to attract attention as it is considered to be a sign of extreme distress and this should never be ignored. Family and friends often play a huge role in identifying these symptoms and urging them to seek help.
There are a few ways that you can help someone with these symptoms, namely:
Treatment for individuals at risk of suicide includes therapy and/or medication. If you or anyone you know are at risk of suicide please seek help immediately whether it be from a family member, friend or medical professional. Please also contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group for suicidal emergencies on 0800 567 567
It is important to remember that depression can be treated and suicide can be prevented, so please take note of the above warning signs and you could save someone’s life.