Depression is a serious, debilitating and life threatening psychological disorder characterized by loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable and social withdrawal which is severe enough to affect the interaction of the patient with other individuals. Depression is often misdiagnosed and many patients suffer in silence without any form of therapy. It is among the top medical conditions afflicting millions of people worldwide.
The exact cause of depression is unknown but it has been said to be multi-factorial, with certain risk factors paying significant roles in triggering patients into depression. It is also important to note that most individuals feel depressed at a certain point in time of their life but when it begins to affect their interaction with themselves, their environment and with others then it is essential that they consult a psychiatrist for proper evaluation.
In this article, we are going to review 5 ways depression can lead to death.
1. It can bring suicidal thoughts
Statistically, it has been noted that most deaths as a result of suicide, occur in patients with an underlying psychiatric condition which are under treatment, poorly treated or not diagnosed. Among these psychiatric disorders, depression tops the chart as the commonest underlying cause that leads to suicide. Depressed patients commonly develop loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable. This can lead to social withdrawal and seclusion, feeling of worthlessness, excessive anger from little irritation, increase feeling of guilt and self hate, excessive crying with crying outburst and crying spells and poor self-image with feeling of self reproach and excessive guilt without any triggering factor. All this symptoms have been found to account for the increase risk of suicide/ suicidal attempts by patients suffering from depression.
2. Affects body functionality
Depression as a psychological disorder may also affect other systems in the body directly or indirectly. It may also lead to severe loss of appetite, reduced food intake and weight loss. When this occurs, such patients may go on to develop malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional deficiency affects virtually all the organs and system of the body and its cumulative effect can lead to death. Death can also occur from sudden low blood sugar levels. However, the appetite of some patients with depression may increase leading to voracious appetite, binge eating and weight gain.
3. Leads to the abuse of alcohol, drugs and tobacco
Most patients suffering from depression are most likely to use alcohol, drugs and tobacco for solace. Hence, they are more likely to die as a result of drug, alcohol and tobacco misuse. They are more predisposed to be involved in accidental drug overdose, use of hallucinogens which can lead to sudden death, tobacco use which can affect the heart, kidneys and the lungs, increase risk of accidents at work, road traffic accident or domestic accidents as a result of substance abuse.
4. Self-neglect and poor personal hygiene
Depression can lead to self-neglect and poor personal hygiene, thereby predisposing them to infections and other medical conditions. It is also important to note that depressed patients neglect their health, have poor health care seeking attitude and are more likely to suffer and die in silence.
5. Can lead to risk of accidents and self-inflicted injuries
When depression is not addressed on time, it may expose the individual to risk of accidents and self inflicted injuries. Although this is not as common as suicide or suicidal attempts, depressed patients have an increase risk of accidents and self-inflicted injuries which can eventually cumulate in death. Accidents can be directly as a result of depression from poor concentration, lack of interest, anger, irritability or from substance abuse. These accidents or self-inflicted injuries can lead to the death of patients suffering from depression