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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Intervention Everyone?


Watching celebrities on T.V. being confronted by involved family and friends in staged interventions makes for great theater. Watching these people detox in front of our eyes is gratifying; they have f.+++ed up lives too. We rejoice and feel better when they at the end are clean and sober. Their redemption is our salvation, we are all well again.

The reality is only about 40,000 people in the U.S. die from drug overdose each year. This includes not only deaths from the use of legal or illegal drugs but also poisoning from medically prescribed drugs. If we subtract these accidental poisonings, the figure is lower.

In the same year, 31,000 people died from suicide, plain and simple; no exceptions. Why isn't anyone doing suicide interventions on T.V.? Why isn't anyone talking about more people dying every year from suicide than routine drug overdose? Don't get me wrong, drugs are a serious problem. Suicide from depression is a serious problem.

The symptoms of Major Depressive disorder are:
              
 
The symptoms of Major Depressive disorder are:
  • Sadness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
  • Changes in weight, up or down
  • Sleeping, under or over 8 hours
  • Restlessness or slowness
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless or guilty
  • Poor concentration
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
I've listed some of the symptoms above in red because most people who have no clue about anything else, can recognize these symptoms. While patients are in my waiting room, before I've even seen them, I can make the diagnosis by just noting these physical observations. Even my dog (a Chug) jumps on my bed when I'm over sleeping; she notices the changes in my behavior. If you notice these symptoms in any person you know and these symptoms have gone on for over 2 weeks, do an intervention. Get these people to their regular medical doctor ASAP. Most primary doctors can start treatment and make other arrangements that might be necessary. Yes, Major Depressive disorder is a medical illness that can be treated.

I'm sure you've recently heard to look for other symptoms of depression and suicidal intent like making a will, making a plan for suicide, etc, but come on, are you really going to ask your loved one "do you feel suicidal?" No, our own shame and horror keeps us from asking. God forbid, if they say yes. Focus on the above observable behaviors and behavioral isolation. This keeps our thoughts and conclusions out of the mix. It's not so personal but you've saved a life.

Look around you folks, think intervention. Suicide just shouldn't have to happen.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

2 comments:

  1. I for one have experience with both psychiatrists and psychotherapists. Finding a psychiatrist or and psychotherapist who is right for you is kind of like going on a blind date. NO matter how cool your friends tell you the person will be, it only sometimes works out and sometimes not. I get impatient when someone says they tried therapy once and rejected it. That's like saying you tried dating once and decided to become a hermit. This last foray into getting help for my depression led me to three therapists. One was a crook and wanted to charge more than my health contract said I should. Th second was cold fish who offhandedly gave me labels...like having a label made me feel better. In the meantime I found a psychiatrist who actually listened and helped me with medication. At her persistent urging I finally relented (out of desperation) and found a therapist who is skilled, caring and very intelligent. The point is that I had to kiss a few frogs before I found one I liked. I see the psychiatrist every few weeks as needed and the therapist at least once a week to dig deep into the issues. The psychiatric medication help me keep my head above water while the therapist is teaching me to swim through the perilous waters of my problems. I have my ups and downs but I have faith that they will help me get back to my self self or even better, help me grow and become stronger and better.

    I encourage those who are suffering to try and find a good fit in your support system. Do not feel obligated to return to a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist if you do not connect with them or feel you cannot trust them. Just move on. They won't be hurt (they are trained professionals!)and it's not your fault if the mix is not right.

    So many suffer needlessly. Ditch any stigma you may have about "shrinks". As Dr. Bacchus says, you would not hesitate to get help if you had chest pain. Psychological pain is just as real and deserves real treatment.

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