Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Depression, Addiction, and Suicidal Thoughts: How Are They Connected?

*Every now and then, beautiful people email me and offer to share their personal stories of heartache and hope, or they offer to share their knowledge. Today, I am so pleased to share this much needed informational piece with you-- a guest post written by my new friend, Chloe Pearson.*

Depression, Addiction, and Suicidal Thoughts: How Are They Connected?
By Chloe Pearson

Alcohol abuse is known to be a factor in about a quarter of all suicides. Alcohol is used before death in about a third of all suicides. Of course, other substances can be involved in suicide attempts but with alcohol’s social acceptability, it is far easier to access and abuse without suspicion. Depression also plays a very common role in many suicide attempts. 

The hopelessness and despair are often among the main reasons people choose to end their lives. But how are the three so interconnected? If you are concerned about a loved one’s wellbeing, here is a little information on how depression, addiction, and suicide go hand in hand.

Depression and Self-Medication 

Self-medication is a common problem in people with all types of mental illness. It simply means that a person is abusing a substance in an attempt to control their symptoms.  Often, this means that the person is going untreated for their mental illness. With depression, many people will abuse alcohol or other substances in order to feel happy again, if only temporarily. 

While it may seem to work for a few hours, alcohol abuse will actually worsen symptoms of depression, creating further perceived need to self-medicate. As the self-medication continues and the depression worsens, suicidal thoughts become much more likely. 

Untreated Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts tend to occur with untreated depression. If a person is not actively working to counteract the effects of depression, eventually, they will likely experience suicidal thoughts. Some mild forms of depression can be managed at home with supplements, exercise, and healthy eating, but clinical depression is a visible chemical imbalance which requires medication to correct. 
Without restoring the balance of chemicals, there is an increased chance for suicidal thoughts and actions to set in. The moment you recognize suicidal thoughts in a loved one, urge them to seek help. It is far more common for the condition to become worse than it is to get spontaneously better.

Substance Abuse and Suicide

If you have ever consumed alcohol, you’re probably aware that it tends to lower inhibitions, and your actions become far less thought out. This is exactly the reason alcohol is found to be a part of so many suicides. For some, the alcohol is used to make what they are planning to do easier. For others, the alcohol abuse can trigger a suicidal thought, leaving it much easier for them to act on it. 
With the high risk of self-medication in people with depression, alcohol abuse can be deadly. If you notice a loved one abusing alcohol or any other substance, seek help. If a substance abuse problem is left untreated, it can rapidly become worse.

Substance abuse, depression, and suicide are all interconnected in one way or another. Someone who has untreated depression and self-medicates is at a very high risk for suicide. If you know someone who has symptoms of any of these conditions, it is critical that they receive help. Untreated depression, addiction, and suicidal thoughts can all have very dire consequences. Do not take chances. Get help as soon as possible and prevent a possible tragedy.

Image via Pixabay by xusenru

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