Social Isolation is one of the top causes of suicide. It is important socially, emotionally, and psychologically to have friends and family to count on. Without them life seems impossible. Many wonder what the causes of this suicide epidemic are. The root of this severe problem lies with the social isolation which is caused by loneliness and depression.
Loneliness is the lacking of desired social relationships, a conflict between one’s actual and desired relationships. Since loneliness results from the perception of unsatisfying social relationships or unsatisfied social need, it may be relatively independent of the actual amount of social contact or solitude. Sometimes it may occur when someone is by themselves but wants to be with another person. In others it may occur while being part of a relationship but feels no connection or “tuned out”. Loneliness is not just being alone. It is more than just a physical state. It is also an emotional state of mind. There are two dimensions to describe loneliness, social loneliness and emotional loneliness. Social loneliness is to the emotional response caused by the absence of a social network.
Emotional loneliness, is to the lack of a close, intimate attachment to another person. Therefore, someone lacking a close friendship may experience emotional loneliness, whereas someone lacking a peer group or friends to “hang out” with, may experience social loneliness. Approximately 15-30% of people experience persistent feelings of loneliness. Research on school-aged children and young adults says that approximately 8-12% experience extreme feelings of loneliness in school. Research has showed that gender differences are not apparent in childhood loneliness but emerge during maturing and adulthood. Males tend to experience more loneliness than females. Like adolescents, most children experience short-term loneliness as a normal consequence of everyday social situations but for some children, these feelings become chronic, affecting their academic performance, overall well-being and mental health. As this problem builds the situation turns into depression.
Everyone sometimes feels blue or sad, but those feelings are usually fleeting and pass with a few days. When someone has a depressive disorder, it interferes with daily life, normal functioning, and causes pain for both the person with the problem and the ones who care for him or her. Depression is common but very serious, most people who experience it need treatment to get better (Depression 1). Most people with the disorder never seek treatment. But the vast majority of those people do not realize that they can get better with treatment, even the ones with the most severe depression disorders. Advanced research into the disorder has developed medications, psychotherapies, and other methods to treat the people with the disorder.
There are several different forms of the depression disorder. The most common is Major Depression Disorder. It is characterized by a combination of symptoms that interfere with a person’s ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy once-pleasurable activities. MDD is disabling and prevents a person from functioning normally. Sometime a person only has one episode of MDD throughout their lifetime, but more often, it recurs throughout a person’s life.
The second most common is Dysthymic Disorder or Dysthymia. Dysthymia is characterized by long-term but less severe symptoms that may not disable a person but can prevent one from functioning normally or feeling well. These people may also have an episode of MDD in their lifetime (Depression 2).
Some more forms of depression disorders are Psychotic Depression, Postpartum Depression, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The people with depression disorder do not always experience the same symptoms. There are numerous noticeable symptoms of depression that people have. All of them suffer from sadness. Meaning they are affected by unhappiness or grief. A lot of people feel hopeless and pessimistic. They also usually feel worthless and helpless. Depression can often coincide with other illnesses or disorders. Such things may precede depression, cause it, and/or be the aftermath of it. Many anxiety disorders accompany depression such as post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder.
People with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, are specifically prone to having co-occurring depression. PTSD is a prostrate condition that can result after a person experiences a terrifying event or ordeal, such as a violent assault, a natural disaster, an accident, or military combat.
Depression is more common in women than in men. Hormonal and psychosocial factors unique to women may tie to women’s higher depression rate. Women are particularly vulnerable to depression after giving birth. Many mothers experience the brief episode called the “baby blues,” but some will develop postpartum depression. Postpartum is a much more serious condition that requires active treatment and emotional support for the new mother. Some studies say that women who develop postpartum depression often have had prior depressive episodes. Many women face the additional stresses of work and home responsibilities, caring for children and aging parents, abuse, poverty, and relationship strains.
Men often experience depression differently than women and may have different ways of dealing with the symptoms. Men are more likely to recognize having fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, and loss of sleep, whereas most women would admit to feelings of sadness, worthless and/or excessive guilt. Men are more likely than women to turn to alcohol or drugs when they are depressed, or become frustrated, discouraged, angry, and sometimes abusive. Some men throw themselves into work to avoid talking about their depression with family or friends, or engage in reckless, risky behavior.
Depression is not a normal part of aging, and most studies say that most seniors feel satisfied with their lives, despite increased physical ailments. However, when older adults do have depression, it may be overlooked because seniors may show different, less obvious symptoms, and may be less inclined to experience or acknowledge feelings of sadness or grief. In addition, older adults may have more medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke or cancer, which may cause depressive symptoms, or they may be taking medications with side effects that contribute to depression. Although many people assume that the highest rates of suicide are among the young, older white males age 85 and older actually have the highest suicide rate. The majority of older adults with depression improve when they receive treatment with an antidepressant, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.
Research has shown that childhood depression often persists, recurs and continues into adulthood, especially if it goes untreated. The presence of childhood depression also tends to be a predictor of more severe illnesses in adulthood. A child with depression may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that a parent may die. Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative and irritable, and feel misunderstood. Depression in adolescence comes at a time of great person change-when boys and girls are forming an identity distinct from their parents, like making decisions for the first time in their lives. Depression in adolescence frequently co-occurs with other disorders such as anxiety, disruptive behavior, eating disorders or substance abuse. It can also lead to increased risk for suicide.
Suicide is one of the world’s top reasons for death. Suicide takes the life of about 30,000 Americans every year. It is the 11th leading cause of death in America, and the 3rd leading cause of death of 15-24 year-old Americans. In 2004 there were estimate 811,000 suicide attempts. There are three female attempts for each male attempt. People that commit suicide tend to be very lonely, depressed, and/or very stressed.