Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Increased Suicide Risk


When an individual goes through traumatic events such as assault, combat or disaster,
chances of them developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are higher. Research studies indicate the existence of a correlation between suicidal behaviors and some types of trauma. For instance, evidence exists, that traumatic events like childhood abuse and military sexual trauma can enhance the risk for suicide and self-harm. With this in mind, it is important to screen for suicide risk.

PTSD and Suicide

There is considerable debate on the issue of heightened risk of suicide in trauma survivors. Some studies suggest suicide risk is higher in people who experience trauma due to PTSD symptoms while othePTSDrs indicate that suicide risk is higher in PTSD individuals due to related psychiatric conditions. Data analyzed by the National Comorbidity Survey showed that singlehandedly, PTSD can significantly influence suicidal attempts or ideation.

Another data analytical study using information gathered by the Canadian Community Health Survey also found that respondents with PTSD displayed a higher risk for suicidal attempts even after mental disorders and physical illness were put under control.

Anger, impulsivity, and intrusive memories are among the behaviors that predict suicide risk. Also, cognitive styles of coping like the use of suppression to deal with stress can additionally be predictive of suicidal risk especially in individuals suffering from PTSD.

PTSD Treatment

As pointed above, the risk of suicide for a person who has gone through trauma is very high. In order to ensure such past traumatic events do not precipitate suicidal attempts, it is important that the individuals concerned are identified in time for treatment. Therapy is the best treatment approach for those suffering from PTSD. In particular, cognitive behavioral treatments can significantly reduce both PTSD symptoms and suicidal thoughts.

Research has established that cognitive behavioral treatments tend to have an effect that lasts anything between 5 and 10 years after the treatment is completed. Having a good relationship with mental health providers is therefore a commendable approach if you are to make the best out of your treatment decisions.

Due to the link between suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and PTSD, there needs to be regular assessments during the mental health treatment exercise. Where the provider has a reason to believe that the immediate risk for suicide is high in his or her patient based on his assessment, he can then make appropriate treatment decisions to ensure that the patient is safe. In the event the immediate suicide risk is not as high, the patient can be managed on an outpatient basis.

What to Do if you or Someone You Know is Suicidal

From time to time, each one of us feels down. However, if you find yourself having thoughts of hurting yourself, consider seeking professional help. Many people with suicidal thoughts also tend to struggle with drinking, drug, or depression problems. Therefore, watch out for these.

In the event you come in contact with a friend, family member or coworker contemplating suicide, start by calming them and advising them on mentor health options available in your area. Connecting with such a person with a mental health provider is often the best approach because these professionals are in a much better position to decide the extent of danger there is.

Someone You Know Has Died Through Suicide

It can be very upsetting when a person you are related or you know very well dies by suicide. Depending on how close you are to them, feelings of shock and distress can engulf you particularly if you saw them committing the act. If you find it hard to cope with the incident even after months have elapsed, contacting a mental health provider can help you overcome the traumatic grief.

When Dealing With Survivors

Happy winners reaching life goal - success people at summit. BusThe reason why supporting suicide attempt survivors can at times seem scary is because these are people who life has pushed them to the extreme edge and uncertainties still exists on whether they may decide to take their lives again. However, in the midst of this uncertainty lies a greater need to establish a support system that can play a leading role in helping attempts survivors to steer down the road to healing and normalcy.

What you need to remember is that suicide attempt survivors are individuals who have laboriously fought their way back from the edge of death and are now making the choice to live. The best support you can give them is by acknowledging they want to be here and they are asking for external support to help them come back to their normal self. Below are a few things to consider when addressing a suicide attempt survivor.

Talk Openly Concerning Suicide

Suicide is not a shameful and bad word. It is something that happens and the reason why you are having the conversion with a suicide attempt survivor is because it happened to them. Being open about suicide is very important as you put in place a support mechanism for the survivors. This open sharing provides a welcoming and honest space where suicide is no longer considered a taboo and makes it easier for the survivors to open up and share their experience and feeling. There is need for compassionate and healthy conversations about suicide so as to encourage survivors to seek support.

Exercise Patience

One of the most critical factors to bear in mind when supporting suicide attempt survivors is patience. These survivors may have needs that vary with time for instance, at one moment they may want to be surrounded by people and in the next they want to stay alone. In order to manage this transformation in needs, you have to be patient with them. It may sound confusing, but you should note that the survivors are doing the best they can and every moment matters to them. Learn to respect their decisions and always check in to see if they are in need of help. Also, you need to be vigilant for warning signs of suicide especially for vulnerable survivors.

Listen Attentively

When you are offering support to attempt survivors, you do not have to offer solutions or try to analyze the reason behind the suicide attempt. What these survivors need is unconditional support and not interrogation. You have to accept that you do not fully understand what goes on in the mind of the survivor and accept them the way they are. Just be there and when they choose to open up, be the listening partner. It is by hearing their story that you can gain a deeper understanding of what they have been or they are going through. Each survivor has a different story and there is no formula when it comes to offering them support.

Stop the Stigma

One of the reasons and in fact the biggest challenge suicide attempt survivors face is the stigma they have to wade through as they seek help. When a survivor hears people discussing about him and how selfish it was to attempt taking their life, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to open up.

Survivors need compassion and not judgment. They require support as they navigate through the abyss of shame, stereotypes, guilt, and stigma that surrounds their world. The decision to take one’s life is neither a light one nor an indicator of character flaw, but rather a sign of deep immense pain that the victim has carried for far too long.

Controlling and Managing Depression for a Fulfilling Life

In Crisis?

Depression is a mental disorder that makes people experience loss of interest or pleasure, low self-worth, low energy, poor concentration, and feelings of guilt. Oftentimes, people confuse depression with feelings of sadness and unhappiness which occur to everyone at one point or the other. People experiencing depression tend to have intense emotions of hopelessness, anxiety, negativity, and helplessness. These feelings stay with them for much longer times thus aggravating the situation.

Depression can affect anyone even the successful and famous people who have everything going on well for them. Some people suffer depression once and never again while to some it tends to recur.

 

Depressed Lone Woman

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Depression shares a number of signs and symptoms with other conditions, however, below are some of those that are commonly associated with the mental disorder.

  • Loss of energy and tiredness
  • Persistent sadness
  • Loss of self-esteem and confidence
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of meaning in things that are interesting and pleasurable
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Avoiding people even family and close friends
  • Loss of appetite
  • Helplessness and hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and self-harm

What Causes Depression

Depression may happen all of a sudden due to physical illnesses or childhood experiences as well as other issues such as unemployment, family problems, bereavement, and other life changing events. Chronic illnesses such as cardiac diseases, cancer, back pains, pituitary damage among others can also cause depression. At times, identifying the cause of depression may not be easy because at times the reason is not clear.

The Various Types of Depression

Below are some of the various forms of depression that commonly affect people and have been categorized by medics.

Mild Depression

This type of depression has a limited effect on your day to day life. You may experience difficulties in concentrating at work or even in motivating yourself to do some of the things which you normally enjoy.

Major Depression

This depression interferes with your daily life. It may affect your sleeping, eating, and other every day activities. Some people experience a single episode of major depression while others experience recurring episodes throughput their lifetime. This form of depression can lead to hospitalization.

Bipolar Disorder

 This is commonly characterized by mood swings which can be extreme. On one end, the person may feel indestructible and elated while on the other they may experience desperation and suicidal feelings. Bipolar disorder symptoms can be very severe to the extent that the affected people lose sense of their world and start doing things that are odd and illogical.

Other types of depression include postpartum depression which is also called “baby blues” and seasonal affective disorder which is commonly associated with the beginning of winter and may last until spring.

Getting Help with Depression

Counseling, psychotherapy work, and talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help you with depression. Counseling gives you a chance with a specialist to talk out the everyday issues in a bid to help eliminate depressive factors. Cognitive therapy addresses your thought patterns and teaches you to identify and reverse negative thoughts. The general practitioner may also recommend antidepressants and other medication particularly in instances where your depression is mild.

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