Thursday, April 30, 2009

Depression and Suicide - hand in hand?

That title should send a chill down one's spine.

Depression is something not to be dismissed lightly. I was watching an amazing programme last night on WNED on teenage depression in Hamilton, Ohio and how the school system is trying to help its students.

As we all know, depression can be caused by many things including a chemical imbalance in the body, certain medications and/or life's uncertainties and misfortunes. The death of a loved one, often triggers depression, as the person realizes that they are truly alone and their loved one will not be returning. Divorce, also, can cause depression for the same reason.

In my view, nobody is immune from becoming depressed, even a person with deep faith.

Depression is not just a state of mind but is also related to physical changes in the brain and is connected to an imbalance of a type of chemical that carries signals in the brain and nervous system. I believe these chemicals are called neurotransmitters.

Mental health problems should not be viewed as a human weakness. There still is a stigma attached to mental health problems, which may prevent a hurting person from getting the help they need and prevent their suicide. As physical illness is viewed with compassion by most people, shouldn't mental illness be viewed the same way?

Physicians can prescribe drugs which will help balance the chemicals and a social worker, pastor, therapist, or a caring friend can be invaluable to help overcome depression by verbalizing ones feelings, whether positive or negative. A non-judgemental person to listen, can do wonders for the hurting one. NOBODY SHOULD HAVE TO WALK THIS VALLEY OF DEPRESSION ALONE.

Among the more common factors in depression are:

A history of Depression running in families. It can run in family groups for generations.

Traumatic event or stress:

Financial problems, breakup of relationships by death or free will, changes in lifestyle, which can also include good changes such as graduating from school or getting married.

Non-Optimistic Personality:

Low self-esteem, and/ or people with a negative outlook on life are at a higher risk for becoming depressed.

Serious Medical Conditions:

Heart disease, cancer and HIV can contribute to depression, partly due to physical weakness and the stress the condition brings on. Depression can actually make the medical condition worse, since it weakens the immune system and it can make pain harder to bear.

Teenagers are not alone in having suicidal thoughts, the population is aging and many elderly people who find themselves alone are not immune to thoughts of suicide. In fact, I remember one medical doctor, knowing just the right amount of pills to do away with himself, did just that. He lived in a Retirement Residence in Toronto and had everything he could possibly use but in spite of this, he decided to end it all. I also knew one young man, whose girlfriend got pregnant, who jumped off the roof of the Eaton's Center. Unfortunately, I know of others who have also ended their lives.

Suicide can affect all ages and positions in life.

I have some concern for a casual friend I know through another friend. He lost his wife a few years back and he has health problems himself. They are compounded by economic difficulties. He is a single Dad now and he will be alone once his last daughter leaves the nest to go to university. My concern is for him once he is no longer with his daughters and really has to face life alone.

In my view, his close friends need to make sure to invite him, to call him on the phone and to include him in their lives.

In my view, men are at a real disadvantage when it comes to getting the help they need. Societal views tend to think that men must be towers of strength and they have been conditioned not to cry since babyhood.

When they are in despair, that despair can turn into rage, depression, anger turned inward and it can spoil their internal happiness.

Women, on the other hand, have each other to verbalize too!

That programme has brought up a lot of very sad memories for me but it was good for me to have seen it.

A heavy subject today, but one worthwhile talking about!

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