Depression affects more people than any other mental health disorder. Research suggests that 16.6 percent of Americans will experience serious depression (referred to as major depressive disorder) at some period during their lifetime. Among women, some studies suggest the rate may be as high as 20 percent. Unfortunately, one episode of major depression often predicts future episodes.
Depression and Suicide
Depression carries with it many significant side effects. Apart from prolonged feelings of sadness and hopelessness, people with depression often become socially isolated, have trouble sleeping or concentrating and find difficulty truly enjoying many of life’s normal pleasures. Suicide is the most severe side effect. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide poses the greatest threat to depressed, Caucasian, older men.
Why Older, Caucasian Males?
There are no clear explanations as to why this is so, but several theories have been examined. For one thing, men seem more reluctant to seek out treatment and so their depression may become unbearable more often. In addition, men tend to make more violent attempts to take their life and so may succeed more often compared to women. Some experts have even suggested that white males enjoy the greatest amount of success in society and so may have fewer opportunities to learn coping skills which are formed through dealing with loss, disappointment and struggle.
Prevention is Key for Reducing Suicide Rate
Whatever the cause, the most serious danger seems to come from relapse. Having a single period of severe depression makes it much more likely that another bout of depression will turn up one day. This is even true for patients who seek out treatment. The patterns of negative thinking which contribute to depression may become a default pattern when stress increases. For this reason, some experts believe that prevention is the real key to reducing the suicide rate among older white men – or anyone.
It is better to get help when a person is beginning to feel depressed rather than waiting until it is severe. If you or someone close to you has been feeling down for several weeks without an obvious cause, contact Family Guidance today.