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Depression and Suicide

The illness of depression is a respecter of no one. A study of this illness revealed, during the year following the Great Depression, a 20% increase in suicides took place. This was mostly considered to be a direct result of one-forth of the Nation being out of work.

Today, with 8.5% of people out of work and facing an uncertain future, mental health professionals estimate the yearly average of suicide to be 32, 000 to possibly increase by1,200 more. These are sobering and frightening statistics.

Depression is not always related to a chemical imbalance. An unrelenting chain of personal disasters, such as unexpected job loss, creating financial hardships and faced with a home foreclosure is devastatingly placing people at greater risk.

Starting with an unexpected job layoff, this immediately creates fear and anxiety. This can lead like a bad chain of events increasing marital problems. The everyday stress of having the thought in the back of your mind, you may only be a few months away from a foreclosure or your place of dwelling, is tremendously unsettling.

Factor in, as humans, we tend to equate our jobs with our definition of who we are and how valuable we are. When a series of losses occur, we can find ourselves in a depressed state.

Mental Health professionals categorize depression in three forms. Mild, moderate and major. The good news is, all of it is treatable.

MILD DEPRESSION:

At this stage, the illness appears to come and go. The person does not feel totally helpless or hopeless. If personal circumstances improve, generally the depressed person can pick up the pieces and move on. Encouragement and support from loved ones will help boost confidence and can be a very helpful antidote at this stage.

MODERATE DEPRESSION:

Moderately depressed people should seek medical attention. There is a chance the person may get better on their own (with personal circumstances greatly improving), however it is more likely they will slip into a severe depression, just as easily, the longer circumstances do not change for the better.

MAJOR DEPRESSION:

This most serious stage of this illness will emotionally cripple the sufferer. At this stage, they are usually incapable of helping themselves. They feel they are drowning in a sea of sorrow and have no way out. Suicidal thoughts can creep in and seem like the only way out of the pain. These folks need gentle persuasion to seek help. Stay with them, at this point, you are their only lifeline. The person is not trying to “be difficult”, they are in extreme pain and medication and/or coupled with psychological therapy will help get the person on the road to recovery and emotional stability once again.

SYMPTOMS:

1. Loss of appetite or eating too much

2. Inability to find enjoyment in former activities

3. Feeling tired from little to no activity

4. Difficulty in making decisions

5. Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

6. Irritability over minor annoyances.

7. Slacking off in caring for personal hygiene

8. Flat line emotionality toward others

9. Talks about suicide

10. Gives former treasured items away

The last two symptoms are in the extreme danger zone, especially if the person has been isolating themself and suddenly appears to feel better (without professional help). Again, family intervention is a must. For further expert information, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

During this difficult economic and uncertain financial future, spawning greater job losses, home foreclosures and potentially ripping families apart, we all need to help one another in our family and friend circles. Sometimes an empathetic, kind, patient listening ear offered to the other person, may help keep them from spiraling deeper into this debilitating illness.

However, it should be noted, depression can occur even when there are no obvious stressors and this is usually due to a chemical imbalance of the brain. Thankfully, medication and/or therapy will help all loved ones who are suffering, so they can be happy again.