A new study has revealed that depression patients who also exhibit risky or nervous behavior have 50 percent (50%) more of a chance of attempting suicide.
Examples of risky behavior include sudden promiscuity and reckless driving, while examples of nervous behavior include agitation, hand-wringing and pacing. In addition to this, acting impulsive without considering the consequences of one’s actions has also been associated with a greater risk of attempting suicide.
Dr. Dina Popovic, study lead author and expert working at the Hospital Clinic de Barcelona (Spain), offered a statement informing that “Assessing these symptoms in every depressed patient we see is extremely important, and has immense therapeutical implications”.
To reach these conclusions, Dr. Popovic and her colleagues looked at a little over 2.800 patients battling depression. About 630 of them had attempted suicide in the past. The researches interviewed each of their subjects in order to try and find behavioral differences between the ones who had attempted suicide in the past and the ones who hadn’t.
The team noticed that depression patients don’t spontaneously refer to these symptoms, so it’s important that the clinician remembers to ask directly, and they also found that “depressive mixed states” precedes most suicide attempts.
Dr. Popovic revealed that “A depressive mixed state is where a patient is depressed, but also has symptoms of ‘excitation’ or mania”. This was found predominantly in depression patients who had attempted suicide in the past.
What’s worse, the researchers shared that using standard criteria for diagnosing depression allowed them to identify just 12 percent (12%) of the depression patients with a depressive mixed state. They only managed to identify 40 percent (40%) of theses patients once they started to use the new criteria.
The findings have been well received by non-affiliated experts. Dr. Donald Malone, Cleveland Clinic’s chair of psychology and psychiatry, offered a statement explaining that agitation and anxiety often point at an underlying diagnosis in depression patients – manic depressive disorder, commonly known as bipolar depression.
It’s a well known fact that bipolar patients have always had a higher risk of attempting suicide, and that they normally require different drugs than unipolar patients. Since antidepressants will easily make them worse rather than better, it is essential to have an accurate diagnosis in order to treat a patient.
The study was presented last week, on Saturday, August 29, 2015, in Amsterdam, at the annual meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP).
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