There are definite dangers associated with depression. It can affect nearly all ages, with some groups and demographics being more susceptible than others (women are more likely to develop depression than men, for example, and teens are said to be more prone to depression than adults). Depression can even be fatal, warn medical professionals; and it's not just the disorder that poses risks. Medications can also present their own list of risky side effects.
Here are four of the dangers commonly associated with depression.
This may be the "ultimate" danger associated with depression; it's considered by many to be the most extreme manifestation of the disorder. Depressed people may convince themselves that they just aren't worth enough to live, or that their friends and family will be better off without them.
Warning signs of suicide include:
Preoccupation with death - person constantly talks about death or conducts extensive research into the afterlife, methods of suicide, and other related subjects
Gathering belongings and giving them away
Cleaning out and "getting things in order" for no apparent reason
Continual speaking about death, the afterlife, or other similar things
Loss of Job and Income
Depression can be debilitating. The depressed person feels worthless and unmotivated, and may call in sick frequently or not show up for work. They may be late or be unable to face difficulties during the workday. Depression can cause a person to be indecisive and unable to concentrate, which could be extremely dangerous in certain types of work (such as construction or factory work that requires a worker to be alert to avoid injury to herself or others).
Losing a job may then exacerbate the person's depression, and the loss of income could affect the amount of medical attention and medication he or she is able to afford.
While medication can save lives, it can also pose serious and/or dangerous side effects. Antidepressants tend to have fewer side effects than SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), but antidepressants may, ironically, induce suicidal thoughts.
Several years ago, a popular antidepressant was called on the carpet for indirectly causing the actual suicides of many people who took it. SSRIs may cause bad headaches, temporary or chronic diarrhea, insomnia, nausea, and/or nervousness and agitation.
Depressed people have a tendency to neglect their own health and care. They may not have the energy or focus to keep their homes clean, eat well, or care for their body. Because of this self-neglect, depressed individuals may be more susceptible to illness.
More serious illnesses may go untreated because the depressed person just can't cope with the idea of having a serious illness and therefore he or she doesn't seek help or treatment.
If you suspect a friend or family member is depressed, just be there for them. Help them get help. Call 911 if you're concerned they're in immediate danger of self harm. If you feel you are depressed, contact your doctor or counselor as well as a friend.