Study Finds Suicidal Thoughts May Persist after Depression Remission

A new study has found that more than 30% of individuals in remission from major depressive disorder usually continue experiencing suicidal symptoms, even after the most severe stage of the illness has passed.

Major depressive disorder accounts for between 60% and 86% of all suicides. The disorder waxes and wanes, with roughly 80% of patients with the disease experiencing no less than five recurrences. Symptoms of suicide may sometimes re-appear, but they don’t always result in action.

Despite the close relation between suicidal behavior and thoughts and the disorder, not many studies have looked into suicidal symptoms in connection with remissive and recurrent major depressive disorder. The researchers’ objective was to study the presence of suicidal symptoms in individuals with recurrent depression and find out if symptoms of suicide were associated with depression’s recurrence.

For their research, the scientists recruited 73 patients with major depressive disorder and 45 controls. They then assessed for symptoms of suicide in every one of them and utilized a cohort design in monitoring recurrences every four or so months over a 2.5-year period.

The scientists discovered that during remission, participants with major depressive disorder self-reported experiencing higher depressive symptom levels in comparison to the control group. They also found that self-reported symptoms of suicide were higher in this group in comparison to the controls at 28% vs. 2.2%.

In addition to this, they discovered that higher levels of suicide symptoms were linked to higher symptoms of depression over the stipulated period, noting that during the entire period of the study, no participant used antidepressants to manage their symptoms. The researchers stated in their report that while depression predicted suicidal thoughts, it didn’t forecast suicidal behavior, noting that the majority of depressed individuals didn’t take part in suicidal behaviors.

In their report, the group also noted that while it recruited a particular cohort with remittent, recurrent symptoms, the study could be restricted by assessment. Instead of using a suicide ideation scale, the researchers used a depression scale. This may have skewed the findings and made it difficult for them to determine whether the rating related to suicidal or depression thoughts.

The researchers hope that these discoveries will help healthcare providers to better characterize patients with major depressive disorder who may be at risk of recurrence. They recommend that suicidal symptoms be monitored closely during remission and look out for any signs of impending relapse.

The researchers published their findings in “Psychiatric Research.”

There is plenty of ongoing R&D being done by companies such as Cybin Inc. (NYSE American: CYBN) (NEO: CYBN) aimed at finding breakthrough psychedelic medicines, which will mark a new chapter in the way mental health issues are treated. These treatments are urgently needed given the spike in these conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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