Can I die from Depression? (A comprehensive guide)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question ”Can I die from depression?”. We will also discuss what is suicide, what are the common type of mood disorders, the risks of suicide, types of suicide risk, suicide prevention and answer frequently asked questions about the subject.

Is It Possible to Die from Depression?

Yes, it is. It is possible to die from depression because of its risk for suicide ideation that may lead to successful suicide attempt or attempts. The horrifying experience of depression can be very exhausting for a person. It not only affects the way we think but also our biology due to the chemical imbalance it causes.

What is suicide?

Suicide simply but terribly means ending your own life. Suicidal tendencies may be manifested by talking about or taking actions on killing one’s self, suicidal ideations, suicidal plans and suicidal attempts.

Suicidal behavior is indicated also as:

  • Suicidal ideation – thinking about killing one’s self by any form.
  • Suicidal plans – formulating how to kill one’s self by use of medication, tools and or other external forms
  • Suicidal attempts – there is an attempt of killing one’s self but is unsuccessful

People who have suicidal tendencies may be heard of saying things like they do not have a reason to live anymore, being isolated, having feelings of hopelessness, shame, guilt, arranging things before killing one’s self like making a will or giving away their possessions, finding instruments or tools that will cause harm like firearms, knives, ties, guns, sleeping a lot or too little, eating too much or very less, engaging in reckless behaviors including substance use or abuse, smoking and drinking alcohol a lot, being self-destructive, avoiding social activities or interactions, hostile, showing signs of anxiety, agitation and having significant mood changes

Common types of Mood Disorders

·         Major Depression – 5 out of the 9 symptoms must be present within 2 weeks and must have at least either or both of depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure.

·         Dysthymia – a chronic type of depression where major depressive episodes or major depression occurs multiple times within two years.

·         Bipolar Disorder – A psychological condition characterized by mania, hypomania, depressive symptoms and a major depressive episode. There are two types of Bipolar Disorder and they are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Another type or often referred to as “Type 3” is Cyclothymia which should be present within two years but mania and a major depressive episode should never be present. The latter may see normal for others as this can be shown as an unusual heightened or elevated mood or typical loneliness.

·         Mood Disorder related to another health condition – Other medical conditions may trigger symptoms of depression such as infections, cancer, chronic illness, sundown syndrome and dementia.

·         Substance-induced Mood Disorder – Due to medication, alcoholism, drug use, drug abuse, exposure to toxin and other forms of treatments, depression or symptoms of depression may occur.

Does depression increase the risk of suicide?

Data shows that 2% of people who have been treated over a long period of time from depression in an outpatient setting will die because of successful attempt in suicide.

For people with depression treated in an in-house hospital setting, death rate through suicide is two times higher (4%).

6% or thrice as high of inpatient die. They are individuals who had treatments for depression following suicide attempts or ideation. With gender, men have higher death rates by suicide with 7%. These are men who have a lifetime history of depression while women have 1% death rate.  

Duration of time a person has symptoms of depression or have had depression can also be considered when evaluating the risk of suicide. From this, there is an estimation of 60% of death rates among people who died through suicide have a mood disorder.

Younger people who die from suicide have a history of substance-use or substance-abuse disorder aside from having symptoms of depression.

Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in 2017 across all age groups according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It was estimated by the American Association of Suicidology that half of the rate of people who committed suicide has symptoms of depression or depression.   

However, 54% was not identified to have depression or its signs and symptoms.

Having depression or its symptoms have a high risk in having suicide ideation. However, depression alone does not usually result to suicide. Other mental disorders are also taken into account such as substance-use or abuse, anxiety disorder and psychosis.

Risk factors

Factors resulting to or related to suicide are the following:

–          Life situations

expected or unexpected

o   Death due to suicide, accidents or terminal illness of a loved one

o   Marriage divorce

o   Divorce of parents

o   Breakups

o   Real or imagined poor health condition

o   Unemployment

o   Relocating

o   Financial challenges

o   Personal security

o   Loss of home

o   Use of drug

o   Drinking alcohol

o   Depression

Additionally, some occasions heighten the feeling of suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideations such as:

§  Anniversaries

§  Holidays

§  A week after hospitalization

§  Withdrawals from antidepressants

§  Before and/or after being diagnosed with a major or terminal illness

§  Before or during disciplinary proceedings

          Emotional and Behavioral Changes:

The following feelings can run the risk of suicide

Emotions

o   Overwhelming pain

o   Feelings of helplessness

o   Feelings of worthlessness

o   Shame

o   Guilt

o   Self-hatred

o   Fear of harming or killing themselves or others

o   Fear of losing control

Behavior

o   Withdrawn

o   lonely

o   exhausted

o   irritable

o   hostile

o   anxious

o   apathetic

o   poor performance in work and school and other activities

o   going with the wrong people

o   becoming socially isolated

o   decrease interest in sex, pleasurable activities that used to be enjoyable

o   decrease interest in spending time with loved ones such as family and friends

o   impairment in functioning

o   poor hygiene

o   lack of sleep or insomnia

o   changes in eating (excessive or loss of appetite)

Types of suicide risk    

Proximal risk factors

Signs that are immediate such as feelings of hopeless ness, guilt, shame, stressful life events, access to tools that may cause harm like firearms and knives, suicidal thoughts and learning or witnessing someone die of suicide.

Distal risk factors

Suicide stems from background issues or because of difficulties in life like co-occurring mental condition, history of suicide, and previous attempts of suicide.

Suicide Prevention

–          Stay alert

Be educated and aware, and stay alert on warnings and signs of suicide risks. Check your loved ones from time to time, stay kind and become a solid ground for each other.

–          Talk to someone

Communicate your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust, either be it a family member or a friend you can be vulnerable and whom you trust. Seek help from your mental health care provider and do the same to others as well. Let others become vulnerable to you. Simply listening does a lot to someone.

–          Show support

Simply listening and acknowledging can be a meaningful gesture. Validate others’ sentiments and feelings. Show kindness, care and love for others in the best possible ways you can. Judge less, listen more. Resonate feelings of safety and belongingness.  

Also note that not all who have depression show the typical signs. There are others who live among us that are good in masking or hiding their mental conditions due to stigma. Ashamed of what people might think or that people’s treatment and attitude towards them might change.

It’s okay if you do not know yet how to be a confidant or be of company for others. We all are learning at some point. Give yourself time to learn through experience. Perhaps simply sit with the other person, or invite them for a meal or do things together like listen to music, paint or walk in the park.

How do I deal with someone who is suicidal?

If you deem that one of your family members are showing signs and tendencies of being suicidal, in a calm, non-judgmental and non-confrontational manner, sit and talk with them. Notify them about your concerns about how they have been behaving or casually talk to them and check how their day went, or invite them for a walk outside or meal.

You can also be as direct as you can. You may ask if they are thinking about committing suicide, but in a graceful and loving manner. Make sure you speak calmly and with a reassuring tone, encourage them and offer support, acknowledge and make them feel their struggle and experiences are valid, and let them know help and support is available. Be it from you or from a mental health professional. Most importantly, be true to them.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

FAQs: Can I die from Depression?

Can I die from depression? 

Yes, you can. Due to the horrifying experience of being depressed and the chemical imbalance it causes, without prevention and/or intervention, you can die from depression. 

Does depression increase the risk of suicide?

Yes, it does. Depression increase the risk of suicide. It was estimated by the American Association of Suicidology that half of the rate of people who committed suicide has symptoms of depression or depression.   

What is the most serious form of depression?

The most serious form of depression is atypical depression which can be a chronic disorder and may occur in longer-term and experienced persistently. Increased risk of suicide and anxiety disorders is associated with atypical depression.

Can someone die because of sadness?

Yes, they can. Extreme sadness and loneliness may lead to depression. And depression can be a chronic psychological disorder that can lead to suicide or death. If left untreated and unattended, suicide attempts may become successful.

What is the #1 cause of depression?

There many causes of depression. One size does not fit all. This may be because of imbalance in the regulation or the brain chemicals, accumulated or chronic stressful life events such as loss of a loved one, new job and relocation, medications, genetic vulnerability, old age or medications. It is believed that to some, interaction of these factors lead to depression.  

What age group has the highest rate of depression?

The age group that has the highest rate of depression are women aging 40 to 59. They are about 12.3% in the U.S. according from the reports of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, among all othe groups, women had a higher reported rate of depression compared to men.   

What are the types of depression?

·         Major Depressive Disorder

·         Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia (also called “Double Depression)

·         bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder

·         Depressive Psychosis

·         Perinatal Depression

·         Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

·         Seasonal Depression

·         Situational Depression

·         Atypical Depression

·         Substance-induced mood disorder

·         Mood disorder related to another health condition

Which type of depression is the most common type of mood disorder?

The following common types of mood disorder are:

–       Major Depression

–       Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia (also known as Double Depression)

–       Bipolar Disorder

–       Mood Disorder related to another medical condition

–       Substance-induced Mood Disorder

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question ”Can I die from depression?”. We also discussed what is suicide, what are the common type of mood disorders, the risks of suicide, types of suicide risk, suicide prevention and answered frequently asked questions about the subject.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioral therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References

https://www.hhs.gov/answers/mental-health-and-substance-abuse/does-depression-increase-risk-of-suicide/index.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/can-depression-kill-you-1067514

https://www.verywellmind.com/suicide-warning-signs-and-risk-factors-1067525

https://www.healthline.com/health/suicide-and-suicidal-behavior#how-to-help

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