Archive for category Self Harm

Depression Strongest Driver of Suicidal Thoughts in Soldiers, Vets


Current and former soldiers who seek treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be screened closely for major depression since the disorder is the single strongest driver of suicidal thinking, say authors of a new Canadian study.

Researchers evaluated 250 active duty Canadian Forces, RCMP members and veterans.  The study comes at a time when record numbers of suicides are being reported among American troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, and the number of suicides reported among Canadian forces last year reached its highest point since 1995.

In veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, about half also have symptoms of major depressive disorder during their lifetime, said the researchers.

But “the task of predicting which people may be at an increased risk of completing suicide is a complex and challenging care issue,” they said.

The study included 193 Canadian Forces vets, 55 active troops and two RCMP members referred to the Parkwood Hospital Operational Stress Injury Clinic in London, Ontario.

Soldiers and vets were screened for PTSD, major depression, anxiety disorders and alcohol abuse.  The depression questionnaire also included questions about suicidal thinking.

Study participants served an average of 15 years and had been deployed an average of three times. About one-fourth had been deployed to Afghanistan at least once. Ninety-two per cent were men.

Most met the criteria for “probable” PTSD, and almost three-fourths screened positive for probable major depression.

Overall, about one-fourth — 23 percent — said that they had experienced thoughts of self-harm, or that they would be better off dead, for several days over the prior two weeks.

Another 17 percent said they had those thoughts more than half of the days in the past two weeks; six percent reported feeling this way almost every day for the previous two weeks.

As found in other studies, the researchers showed that PTSD is linked to suicidal thoughts. But “what became the biggest predictor was, specifically, depression severity,” said Dr. Don Richardson, a consultant psychiatrist at the Operational Stress Injury Clinic and an adjunct professor in the department of psychiatry at Western University in London.

“It really stresses the importance that when you’re assessing someone for PTSD it’s also critical that you assess specifically for major depression,” Richardson said. “From our limited study, it was depression severity that was the most significant predictor of having suicidal ideation.”

The concern is that soldiers seeking treatment for military-related trauma might not receive aggressive therapy for depression. Instead, the focus might be more focused on PTSD and exposure therapy.

“There’s potentially a lot of people out there who are suffering who might not be aware that there are effective treatments, and that there are clinics available across Canada that specialize in military trauma,” said Richardson.

Source:  The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry

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Am I Anorexic?


Hi I’m 15, female, 5’2 and 87. I’m completely obsessed with food. It literally rules my life. I stay up all night thinking and planning what I will eat the next day. I love making food for others but I never eat it. I find it hard to eat over 400 calories a day. I am on my feet every minute I am awake, I never sit down. I workout and exercise also. Not as much as I should. I cancel plans with my friends because I’m afraid they will make me eat or I will be confronted with food. I have constant urges to throw up but I never have. I also self harm by cutting.
I cancel all plans with friends also because I hate being social. I’m a nice person, I just get nervous around other people. I hate staying the night at other peoples’ houses because I have certain routines that I do every day.

I’m constantly sad. Nothing makes me happy. Not even going on vacations or “fun” trips to the mall or amusement park. Being with friends doesn’t make me happy, it just makes me freak out. I constantly think people are judging me. What the heck is wrong with me?? Eating disorder? Anxiety? OCD? Depression? I’ve taken many online quizzes and I’ve scored high on all of the above disorders. I haven’t been to a doctor in over a year, I’m afraid they’ll force me to gain weight and eat. I have insomnia also. Please help. I feel suicidal all the time but I’ve never attempted. I feel like I’m constantly bothering people.

A. I am sorry that you are suffering. You asked about whether you have anxiety, OCD, depression, or an eating disorder. I cannot know with certainty. What fundamentally seems to be driving your behavior is anxiety and fear.

You also seem to lack self-esteem. You are constantly worried about what other people think of you. You worry that you are “bothering people” which may indicate that you consider yourself unimportant.

You are not functioning well. Your eating or sleeping patterns are unstable and you are experiencing significant mental health symptoms, all of which are disrupting your life. You need help. Receiving help at this time is especially imperative because you admitted that you are considering suicide. People often consider suicide when they feel as though they have no other option or they don’t know what to do.

I would advise you to see a mental health professional. You should also have a physical evaluation by a medical professional to determine what damage your body has sustained. Undergoing those evaluations will help to determine your psychological and physical health status.

Accessing professional mental health treatment is the wisest and most efficient approach to your problems. Asking for help may be difficult but force yourself to do it anyway. There are many people who have had very similar problems, received help and their life has significantly improved. If you are willing to seek professional help, then you can expect the same, positive outcome. There is a great deal of hope if you are willing to seek treatment. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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