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Can someone with depression buy a gun?

In this brief article, we will find out the answer to the question ‘can someone with depression buy a gun?’, if yes what are the terms and conditions. We will also briefly explain depression, its symptoms, causes and risk factors and treatment for depression.

Can someone with depression buy a gun?

No, someone with depression cannot buy a gun. According to federal law, a person who is deemed to be having a history of mental illness or is currently suffering from mental illness cannot buy any kind of firearm. 

It is very important for the safety and protection of public health by preventing people with a history of or is at potential risk of harming themselves or other or causing violence from acquiring firearms.  

Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness accompanied by feelings of worthlessness, lack of energy and loss of interest in pleasurable activities. Studies suggest that people with depression are more vulnerable to suicide than those with any other mental health condition.

Since depression’s characteristic symptoms are hopelessness, guilt and worthlessness, a person experiencing depression is at high risk of planning or attempting suicide. People reports to have severe ideation of suicide when they were depressed. 

Some reports the suicidal ideation to be very severe that even a piece of cloth they looked at reminded them of it can be used as a means to hang themselves. In this case, owning a gun would trigger the thought of attempting suicide and they are at high risk of committing suicide.

Few studies reveal that the suicide rate is higher among those who own a gun that those who don’t. This finding can be explained by the fact that attempting suicide using guns are more lethal than any other method for suicide. And the success rate is higher for suicidal attempt using guns than any other methods.

Furthermore, studies also report that depression is very common among teenagers and early adults. This population seems to be at high risk of suicide and in most of the countries suicide seems to be the most common cause for deaths in teens and early adults. It’s also reported that most of those who committed suicide using a gun are adolescents or teenagers.

Experts say that teenagers are very impulsive and emotional that they tend to be more depressed and anxious than adults. Considering the substance abuse that is very common among teenagers these days besides their impulsivity and emotionality,  in addition to their depression, making guns easily available for them is like putting them extremely vulnerable and at high risk of committing suicide successfully. 

Another major reason for a firearm to be the most preferred or successful method to commit suicide is because using it makes the process quick and it’s deadly. Using a firearm helps the individual to carry out the act of committing suicide very quick and easier and therefore possess high risk even though the suicide crises are short term.

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Depression

Depression is a disorder that reflects 10% of the world population. Depression is a mood disorder that involves a pervasive feeling of sadness, lack of energy, loss of interest in pleasurable activities and feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. Depending on the severity and duration of the symptoms it’s mainly of two types:

Major depressive disorder

For a person to be said to be having the major depressive disorder, he should be markedly depressed, lose interest in a pleasurable activity and feel lack of energy, hopelessness and worthlessness for at least two weeks.

Dysthymic disorder/ persistent depressive disorder

Involves persistent depressed mood most of the with intermittently normal moods for more than 2 years. 

Symptoms 

The key symptoms for depression are:

Depressed mood

Pervasive sad mood most of the day, nearly every day

Anergia

The feeling of lack of energy most of the time

Anhedonia

The feeling of loss of interest in activities that were previously seen as pleasurable

Worthlessness

The feeling of excessive guilt and worthlessness

Changes in appetite

Depressed people either report to have a decreased appetite resulting in weightloss or increased appetite resulting in weight gain.

Insomnia/ Hypersomnia

Some people experience a lack of sleep or decreased sleep (insomnia) while others seem to report increased sleep (hypersomnia)

Lack of concentration

Depressed people experience a diminished ability to concentrate nearly everyday

Suicidality

The recurrent feelings and thoughts about death or suicide with or without a specific plan for suicide.

The severity of these symptoms depends on how distressing these symptoms are to the person and how much dysfunction they cause in a person’s everyday life.

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Diagnosis 

For a person to be diagnosed as suffering from depression, the person must report being markedly depressed, experience a lack of interest in pleasurable activities (anhedonia) and lack of energy (anergia) for at least two weeks. And all the other common symptoms of depression must be present and :

  • These symptoms must cause significant distress for the person
  • Symptoms must also cause clinically significant impairment or dysfunction in one’s social.occupational and other areas of functioning
  • These symptoms should not be induced by any drugs or medical condition

Causes and risk factors

Biological factors

Genetic factors

A lot of studies reports that depression runs in family. Therefore one major cause of depression can be the genetic influence.

Neurochemical factors

Studies suggest that disruption in the regulation of neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine can result in the experience of mood disturbances. Therefore imbalance in neurotransmitter is another causal factor for depression.

Psychological factors

Psychological factors that can cause depression are:

  • Stressful events or experiencing chronic stress
  • Personal dispositions and vulnerability in response to stress
  • Lack of social support and social skills

Prognosis

Depression can be sometimes very dangerous when ignored. The treatment of depression sometimes is of long duration to recover completely and there are chances for depression to recur. 

Depression can even lead to death when left unnoticed or untreated as people with depression has suicidal ideation and may try to commit suicide by various means.

Treatment 

Psychotherapy

The most commonly used therapies to treat depression are:

Medication

Antidepressants like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), tricyclic antidepressants are used to treat depression.

The most effective treatment for depression incorporates both therapy and medication.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we discussed whether a person who is depressed can buy a gun or not. We found out that people who are depressed are at high risk of committing suicide and those who use guns are more successful in committing suicide than any other method as they are quick and deadly. 

We also discussed what is depression, its symptoms, causes and risk factors, prognosis and treatment for depression.

FAQ: can someone with depression buy a gun?

Does owning a gun increase the risk of suicide?

Yes, owning a gun increases the risk of suicide. Studies report that using a gun is quick and deadly and hence the success rate of suicide using a gun is much higher than committing suicide by other methods.

What should you do if someone tells you they are thinking about suicide?

When someone tells you that they are thinking of suicide, try to listen to them without being judgemental and encourage them to seek professional help as soon as possible. 

Suicide is preventable and hence any indication of suicide should be taken seriously and not ignored.

Which age group is more vulnerable to commit suicide? 

Studies say that people between 15-29 years are more vulnerable to commit suicide and its the most stressful period of their life going through many problems that take a toll on them and lead to committing suicide.

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Daniela Paez is a Clinical Psychologist with an MSc. In Clinical Neuropsychology from Bangor University. She has vast experience in working with children with disabilities, adolescents and their families, in extreme conditions of poverty and vulnerability. Additionally, she owns a private practice where she provides neuropsychological evaluation for children and adults, and treatment for mood disorders, anxiety, couple therapy, among other conditions.