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Depression and Suicide - Topic Overview

Depression is a disease. It's caused by changes in chemicals in the brain that are called neurotransmitters. Depression isn't a character flaw, and it doesn't mean you are bad or weak. It doesn't mean you are going crazy.

People who are very depressed can feel so bad that they think about suicide. They may feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. But most people who think about suicide don't want to die. They may see suicide as a way to solve a problem or end their pain.

Recommended Related to Depression

Depression: Asking Loved Ones for Help

When Scott Davis, 38, was suffering from major depression, he confided in his sister-law. “One day I found myself talking to her about all my fears about the depression, and the medication and therapy I was beginning. I was overcome with anxiety about my future, and she said, ‘I’ve been there.’ Those three words lifted all the pain I was feeling.” Few decisions are as personal as whether to tell a loved one that you are suffering from major depression. “Telling someone about depression isn’t something...

Read the Depression: Asking Loved Ones for Help article > >

What to watch for

It is hard to know if someone is thinking about committing suicide. But past history or events may make suicide more likely.

Things that can make suicide more likely include:

Warning signs of suicide include someone:

  • Planning to or saying he or she wants to hurt or kill himself or herself or someone else.
  • Talking, writing, reading, or drawing about death, including writing suicide notes and speaking of items that can cause physical harm, such as pills, guns, or knives, especially if this behavior is new.
  • Saying he or she has no hope, feels trapped, or sees no point in "going on."

Read more about warning signs of suicide.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 11, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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