Depression & Substance abuse = suicidal tendencies?

robin-williams-depressionWhen one of the most loved personalities in the world took his life, we couldn’t help wonder. Did a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression as well as alcohol and drug abuse contributed to Robin Williams’ taking his own life? His struggle saddened everybody while highlighting how difficult it can be to live with both of these disorders – and the fact that the number of suicides among Americans between the ages of 45 and 64 has been rising in recent years, makes you be aware that “ …these disorders are made more complex and difficult to treat because they are accompanied by depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts” says the organization Freedom from Fear in their report about anxiety and depression.

Depression alone can cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors; when compounded by drug use, especially alcoholism, the symptoms worsen considerably. The New York Times reports that Williams had recently left a treatment program for depression in addition to struggling with substance abuse early in his career and seeking treatment for alcohol abuse in 2006.

The combination of depression with drugs and alcohol abuse works like an evil twin. No matter which one started first, Many studies have demonstrated co-morbidity of alcohol abuse/dependence with mood and anxiety disorders but relatively little is known about anxiety and depression across the full continua of alcohol consumption and problems associated with drinking states the Cambridge Journal in their depression & anxiety with alcohol use document.

Does alcohol and other drug abuse increase the risk for suicide?

In a dual diagnosis, both the mental health issue and the drug or alcohol addiction have their own unique symptoms that may get in the way of your ability to function, handle life’s difficulties, and relate to others. To make the situation more complicated, the co-occurring disorders also affect each other and interact. When a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse as well. And when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems usually increase too. Helpguide.org, a guide to mental, emotional, and social health helps you to understand the link between substance abuse and mental health.

In studies that examine risk factors among people who have completed suicide, substance use and abuse occurs more frequently among youth and adults, compared to older persons. For particular groups at risk, such as American Indians and Alaskan Natives, depression and alcohol use and abuse are the most common risk factors for completed suicide. Alcohol and substance abuse problems contribute to suicidal behavior in several ways. Persons who are dependent on substances often have a number of other risk factors for suicide. Substance use and abuse can be common among persons prone to be impulsive, and among persons who engage in many types of high risk behaviors that result in self-harm.

Fortunately, there are a number of effective prevention efforts that reduce risk for substance abuse in youth, and there are effective treatments for alcohol and substance use problems. Researchers are currently testing prevention treatments specifically for persons with substance abuse problems who are also suicidal, or have attempted suicide in the past according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The first step to recovery, it`s always to make the decision. Remember, hope is never lost. Seek support and be patient.

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