Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Neuro-Psychology of Suicide.

The Neuropsychology of Suicide

We’ve all gone through a stage in our life where we’ve had suicidal thoughts; some of us secretly contemplated suicide. Why is this the case? A hard childhood? A bad break up? Messed up parents? Losing a loved one? Yes, these are common symptoms and if the thoughts have crossed your mind, it’s perfectly normal because that’s what a human being is – a loving entity that feels. But here we will discuss the psychology and the biology of what goes on with a person who is seriously contemplating suicide.
You could be working with a colleague and the following day, you get the news your colleague committed suicide. Do you ever remember saying: “I can’t believe it, we were laughing just yesterday!”  And yes, everything may seem normal on the surface but the reality is different. Please take note I’m not talking about hysterics like your X cheer leader girlfriend who said she’ll commit suicide if you leave her. I’m talking about people who suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
So how do we understand suicide? First we need to understand the symptoms associated with it. Most people who commit suicide are usually in deep with Major Depressive Disorder. I mean, not unless you’re an honorable samurai who commits hara kiri (traditional suicide) to regain your fallen honor – NO, we’re talking about our present day social normal routines.
So MDD is just more than a bad day, in fact I see people going: “I’m depressed!” To be honest, there’s a huge difference between being depressed and sad or ‘very’ sad.  When one is depressed, that person is in continuous pain to the point that emotional pain becomes a literal physical pain. For those of us who’ve lost a loved one as this is the most common type of bad event we eventually face with grandparents or unfortunately some friends, we go through at least a glimpse of depression with the continuous thoughts of sadness and sorrow, fatigue, loss of appetite, etc
So you can guess that MAJOR DEPRESSIVE DISORDER is a severe state of depression and just doesn’t happen if you wake up on the wrong side of the bed.  When a person has MDD, that person disconnects everything related to life such as socializing with friends, wouldn’t even want to get out of bed and even refuse to eat. Take note I said refuse to eat and not just loss of appetite which means the person is denying all natural human instincts from eating to loss of sex drive. 
So in biological terms, what’s really going on? Is the red wire in the brain going where the green should go?  Scientists have studied the brains of those who suffered from MDD and eventually committed suicide. As dark as that may be, the results gave positive insights on things that go wrong in the brain during depression and how to fix it.
The new study reports that the brains from people with MDD had abnormally high levels of a protein called DNA methyltransferase, or DNMT for short. These brains had 61 percent more of one type of DNMT than did brains from people who had died suddenly but who were not depressed.
Why this proved interesting is because DNMT has a phenomenal ability to turn genes off. So basically MDD silences genes inside neurons so genes that should be turned on are turned off instead.  So then DMNT silences DNA in the genes that make proteins that are essential to keep electrical signals flowing in the right direction.  So without the right protein making machinery, we have a problem going a different route.
Interestingly, the overabundance of DNMT was located in the frontopolar corteX, a part of the brain involved in sizing up how good or bad something really is. So now this makes sense that the area of the brain that helps you perceive the magnitude and gravity of how good or how bad a situation is the point that is most affected by DNMT. 
So in case you believed that someone commits suicide strictly because of events taking place, you’re not right yet not fully wrong because now we have keen evidence that proves the malfunction in the brain causes one to loop and some are more prone than others.
But for neuroscientists, these are nearly one and the same. EXperience—what we see, feel, hear—can literally sculpt our brains, leaving lasting marks on neurons and their connections. As we are the sum of our experiences, so are our brains.
So it’s best to relief stress in a multitude of ways but as for depression, you can’t slap a person’s back and say get over it, because it’s the biochemistry involved at this point.  
Thus at this point, I would like to talk about how people react to depression. How many people do we know that would tell another guy suffering from depression, come on “you’re a MAN” so act like one! Now that you’ve read this article, how can you respond to that? It’s ignorance on every measurable level. A person is tired of breathing and yet you’re telling the person to get up and grow a pair.

So who is more prone to depression and suicide? Studies showed that women are more prone to depression than men since they have their hormones on the front lines such as their premenstrual syndrome and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Women are more likely to share out their feelings unlike men and will usually overeat and gain weight. Men, on the other hand, never really admit they are depressed and usually cite they are tired even though the symptoms are obvious. However, men are more at risk to suicide than women so even though women are at risk to depression more than men; they aren’t at risk to suicide as much as men.  Just remember that substance abuse, especially in males occur during a depressed state.
A few anti-depressants to name are
1-      EffeXor
2-      Desyrel
3-      Zoloft
4-      Prozac
5-      Remeron
6-      Elavil

So remember suicide is never to be taken lightly and in conclusion, if you’re ever feeling depressed, a clinical psychologist can do more wonders than asking your bff .