It’s likely safe to say, just about all of us have felt depressed at some point in our lives. Maybe it lasted for a few hours, a day, or several weeks. Usually, for the majority of us, the feeling passes. But sometimes depression can last and last, leading to an unbearable feeling. Then, finally, their depression reaches the point where life does not seem worth living. When depression develops to this stage, suicidal thoughts may occupy one’s thoughts as one contemplates and considers taking their own life.
It is always difficult to comprehend and understand what one is going through who either attempts or is successful at suicide. For individuals across the U.S. who struggle with mental illness having little to no access for help, it may seem like only the wealthy and influential have the resources available to beat back depression and suicidal contemplation. However, that hasn’t always been the case. In the past several years, many high-profile individuals, such as fashion designer Kate Spade, author and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, and actor Robin Williams, had all the money and resources in the world, yet it didn’t matter. We can only imagine how completely hopeless and overwhelmed each must have felt to have kept their battle with depression from view.
Mental illness – is a stigmatized disease, and few of us talk about it. For example, we openly discuss cancer or dementia, but a mental illness that includes depression and suicide remains hush-hush. Is it because mental illness is viewed as weak, or do few of us want to comprehend its magnitude?
An estimated 1 in 10 Americans suffers from depression, according to the latest data from the CDC. Women are 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men, but men are four times more likely to commit suicide.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental illness also affects up to 1 in 5 adults in the U.S., or about 44 million. Unfortunately, adults are not the only victims of this disease – children and teenagers can fall prey to its grip. Depression is especially dangerous to teens and young adults whose brains are not fully developed and who are impressionable. Sadly, only 50 percent of children and teens with a mental illness from ages 8 to 15 get help from mental health services, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. For adults, it’s even worse – only 41 percent get treatment, and many cannot afford treatment or medication.
What is depression?
Depression is easy for any one of us to become a victim of. During our lifetime, everyone will experience the loss of loved ones or tragedies, and a normal reaction to these unfortunate realities can make even the most stoic of us feel sad or depressed.
But when intense sadness – including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless – lasts for days or weeks, debilitating your life, it may be something more than sadness. Depression is a disease like any other, and it’s not about being weak or lacking willpower. Depression is a multifactorial mental illness of several forms, including clinical depression, major depressive disorder, psychotic depression, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder.
What are the signs of depression?
While there are many signs of depression, one of the most serious symptoms is suicidal thoughts or attempts at suicide. The mental disorder associated most with suicide is depression. Shockingly, a report from the CDC stated that in 2020, the 12th leading cause of death for all ages in the U.S. was suicide.
Depression is a serious, debilitating, and yet treatable mental illness. It is important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms you notice within yourself or others suffering from it – here is what to watch for:
- Feeling sad, anxious, or “empty” that is persistent
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
- Feeling guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Persistent irritability or restlessness
- Losing interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Increases fatigue and reduced energy
- Unable to focus, remember details, or make decisions
- Experiencing insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Having thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
- Noticing more aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not respond to medication
Anyone with symptoms should seek out help immediately. There are various resources out there that are in place to provide the help of speaking to a mental health therapist if you are contemplating suicide. There is also the National Suicide Prevention Hotline which is a 24-hour service by calling 1-800-273-8255. Find more information on depression and where to find help in your area by visiting Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.