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Untreated Depression

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Can untreated depression lead to suicide? continued...

Most people who suffer from clinical depression do not attempt suicide. But according to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 90% of people who die from suicide have depression and other mental disorders, or a substance abuse disorder. Men commit almost 75% of suicides, even though twice as many women attempt it.

The elderly experience more depression and suicide than you might think. Forty percent of all suicide victims are adults over the age of 60. Older adults suffer more frequently from depression because of the frequent loss of loved ones and friends as they age. They also experience more chronic illnesses, more major life changes like retirement, and the transition into assisted living or nursing care.

Are there certain risk factors for suicide with untreated depression?

The risk factors for suicide associated with untreated depression include:

  • Family history of mental or substance abuse disorder
  • Family history of physical or sexual abuse
  • Having attempted suicide previously
  • Having family members or friends who have attempted suicide
  • Having mental and substance abuse disorders
  • Keeping a firearm in the home

If you or someone you know has risk factors for suicide and has also displayed warning signs, seek the help of a mental health care professional right away. Also, do not leave the person alone. People often talk about suicide before they attempt it, so pay close attention to what the person is saying.

What are warning signs of suicide with untreated depression?

Warning signs of suicide include:

  • Talking, writing, or thinking about killing or hurting oneself or threatening to do so
  • Depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • Having a "death wish;" tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death -- for example, driving through red lights
  • Losing interest in things one used to care about
  • Making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, or changing a will
  • Saying things like "it would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
  • A sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • Suddenly visiting or calling people one cares about
  • Talking about suicide
  • Increase in drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Writing a suicidal note
  • Watching well publicized murder and/or suicide reports in the media
  • Conducting on-line searches on ways to commit suicide
  • Seeking methods to kill oneself, such as getting a gun or pills

For in depth information, see WebMD’s Depression and Suicide.

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