(The information that follows is not widely known. There are no scientific studies proving or disproving it but it is something that is whispered about by those “in the know”. I may very well land in a lot of trouble by disclosing this information here but it is IMPORTANT. Very important.
My motivation is simple. This information may well save lives. Even if only one life is saved then the risk will be worth it. I am only mentioning this here because I want you, the reader, to be apprised of the reality of what is to follow. Read it with an open mind and draw your own conclusions.)
Depression has been shown to be a contributing factor in suicide. However, depression comes in many levels of severity. In actual fact, those people who are experiencing a severe episode of clinical depression are less likely to commit suicide than are those who are only mildly or moderately depressed. The reason for this is quite simple.
How many daily activities do we take for granted? Activities like getting out of bed, showering, getting dressed, eating, maybe going out to do grocery shopping. Ask anyone who has ever lived through a bout of severe depression and they will tell you just how difficult these activities can be. In some cases they are just plain impossible!
What does this have to do with suicide? Almost everything. Suicide is something that takes effort, at least a certain amount of planning and resolve. These things are all but impossible for most people suffering from an episode of severe depression. This is not to say that it can't happen (there are no absolutes when it comes to dealing with mental illnesses) but the likelihood is remote.
When a severely depressed person is finally able to seek help, whether through their own efforts or those of concerned friends and loved ones, the situation can become more tenuous. As a first step toward recovery most patients will be placed on a treatment program that includes antidepressants. This may or may not be done in conjunction with other types of therapies such as psycho analysis or some other “talking” therapy. It is the medication component of this treatment that is of concern here.
Treating depression with antidepressant drugs is an elaborate chemistry project. It is NOT an exact science! Every individual has different brain chemistry so each individual will respond differently to antidepressant drugs. What does remain consistent, however, is the fact that these medications do not begin to work immediately. There is what is commonly referred to as a “ramp up” period during which an individual begins to enjoy the benefits afforded by antidepressant drugs. After the ramp up period, if the drug works, the patient will begin to enjoy life again as the depression slips away. If the medication does not yield the desired results, the patient will have to be weaned off the medication over a period of a few weeks before a new ramp up program on a new medication can begin.
It is these ramp up and weaning periods that must be monitored very closely! As antidepressant medications begin to work or cease to do so most patients will begin to notice an changes in mood and energy. Those activities that seemed impossible only a few days before suddenly don't seem so daunting. The underlying depression is still there but the sense of hopelessness and feelings of lethargy will begin to subside. And this is where the danger lies.
If a person was prone to suicidal thoughts or tendencies it is now that they might have the strength and energy to follow through on them. Remember, the depression is still there but the person has renewed energy and will power.
If you are a depressed patient or if a friend or family member is going through this process it is important to remain vigilant. Watch for signs that suicidal behavior is evident and act accordingly. (There are many excellent resources available on line that will provide you with information on warning signs to watch for) The appropriate action could include calling a suicide hot line, consulting a medical professional or going to a local emergency ward. Whichever course you ultimately choose it is a good idea to have your medication available as well as information on dosages and how long you have been using the antidepressant in question.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this ramp up period is a passing thing. Once a patient has responded favorably to a treatment regimen they can begin to enjoy life again. If you are the individual going through this process, keep this thought in mind. Whatever you might be feeling at this moment is going to pass and THINGS WILL GET BETTER! If the patient in question is a friend or family member, tell them the same thing and reinforce it often.
Mental health is something we all have a right to enjoy but like any kind of health it is precious and must be safe guarded. Please do everything in your power to do just this. If you need help or direction you can begin with this website to find additional information and resources. Above all, don't be afraid to seek whatever kind of help you need if your mental health is not all it should be. Almost any kind of help you can imagine is available to you but you have to ask for it in order to get it.