Mood Disorders and Suicide

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MoodDisorders and Suicide

Suicideis one of the most common consequences of mood disorders. In astandalone way, mood disorders are also a major challenge facing manynations across the globe. When mood disorders escalate to the pointof suicide, the situation becomes, even more, complex. Previousstudies have shown that 15% of people who are admitted to hospitalswith major mental conditions such as depression end up committingsuicide. This scenario shows that the thoughts and willingness to endone’s life through suicide is a prominent feature of mooddisorders. Connecting the two occurrences, it is easy to concludethat suicide occurs as a symptom of an underlying illness. Forinstance, people suffering from depression account for 80% of allsuicide cases reported in Canada. In fact, suicide is the thirdleading cause of death in males between the ages of 14 and 25. Thispaper seeks to explore the connection between mood disorders andsuicide. Mood disorders play a significant role in influencing peoplewith mental illnesses towards suicide and exploring this link canhelp remedy the situation reduce the cases of suicide.


Mooddisorder is defined as a psychological disorder that is characterizedby the gradual shifts in an individual’s mood. These shifts in moodmanifest in various ways for example depression and bipolar disorder.Mood disorders comprise of a broad range of mood issues andcomplications. These include depressive disorders, bipolar disorderand dysthymic disorder. Contrary to popular assumptions, mooddisorders are not an individual’s character defects ormanifestations of their personal weaknesses (Ghaemi, 2008).Consequently, their treatment is not just a simple change of attitudeor mindset. They are in fact medical conditions that are created bythe body and the brain through a chemical process that require a lotof medical and psychological interventions to treat.

Typesof Mood Disorders

Likemost experts in this field concur, major depression tops the list ofthe most commonly occurring mood disorders. Mental suffering andphysical illnesses are the most prominent of this type of mooddisorder. Major depression also hinders normal daily functions in itspatients. They have a difficult time performing what may beconsidered to be normal or routine activities like eating andgrooming (Soggie, 2009). Major depression manifests itself indifferent ways and levels in different people. It normally occurs inepisodic attacks that make the victims exhibit that signs andsymptoms of the condition. Some people may only experience one ofsuch episodes in their lifetime. Others, in extreme cases, may evenexperience several episodes in a day. Dysthymic disorder is themilder type of depression, but it does not limit an individual’sability to function normally in their daily activities.

Bipolardisorder is the other common type of mood disorders. Although it isless common compared to major depression, it still affects aconsiderable number of people. For example, about 5.7 million adultAmerican suffer from this condition. Bipolar disorder occurs whendepression is combined with extreme elation. In this case, theextreme elation is referred to as mania. Bipolar disorder is apotentially dangerous and destructive illness that causes drasticchanges in a person’s mood, function and energy levels. People withthis disease are likely to experience extreme euphoria, but not alloccurrences have depressive episodes. Such patients have someduration of incomplete or complete stability. Some psychologistsargue that bipolar disorder is caused by an imbalance of the factorsthat cause depression and other mood disorders (Barlow &amp Durand,2011). They support this paradigm basing their argument on the factthat bipolar disorder is characterized by alternation periods ofextreme sadness, which is depression, and extreme happiness, which ismania.

Othertypes of mood disorders include cyclothymic disorder, seasonalaffective disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Cyclothymicdisorder is a disorder that results in emotional shifts just likebipolar disorder. The only difference between the two is that theemotional shifts that are caused by the cyclothymic disorder are lesssevere when compared to these caused by bipolar disorder. Seasonalaffective disorder occurs in the far northern and southernhemispheres from late fall to early spring. It is a form ofdepression that is seen to be caused by the shorter durations ofdaylight hours in these geographical zones. The premenstrualdysphoric disorder occurs in some women right before the onset oftheir menses. Such women experience mood changes and irritability astheir menses approach. This state ends when they start their menses.

Alltypes of mood disorders appear to have one common feature they occuras a result of mood imbalances. This phenomenon leads to the questionwhat causes these mood imbalances. Scientists in this field have notpinpointed to a factor or set of factors that cause mood imbalances(Shives, 2008). Bipolar disorder is caused several factors of brainfunction that appear to be hereditary. Depression is caused by theinteraction of hereditary, biological, environmental andpsychological factors. Most theories focus on the role of brainneurotransmitters creating an imbalance that then causes depression.

Somemood disorders do not occur naturally. They are induced by substanceuse and abuse (Johnson, 2011). Most of the disorders in this categoryare psychiatric and recurring. When people suffering from mooddisorders take up substance abuse, the substances they abuse maycause more harm than good to their conditions. In most cases, thesesubstances end up extrapolating the effect of the mood disorder theuser is already is suffering from. Substance abuse and co-occurringmood disorders go hand in hand. If the depression or bipolar that asubstance user is suffering from is treated, they have a reduceddesire for the substances they abuse.

Symptomsof Mood Disorders

Theemotional and physical symptoms of mood disorders vary from person toperson. This inconsistency is caused by variations in the underlyingfactors that cause mood disorders. These factors include genetics,environment, and biological makeup of an individual (Johnson, 2011).As mentioned earlier, depression and mania are the two extremes ofany mood disorder. Depression is characterized by extreme sadnesswhile mania is mainly characterized by extreme happiness. Asexpected, each of these states will have different symptoms as willbe explained in the subsequent prose.


Depressionis characterized by thoughts of and actual attempts of suicide, andthis explains why most people are suffering from depression end upcommitting suicide. Other symptoms include withdrawal from activitiesthat were interesting in the past (Barlow &amp Durand, 2011).Unending feelings of anxiety, emptiness and sadness are also a commonoccurrence. The victims also experience feelings of hopelessness andnegative attitude towards things. Lastly, feelings of helplessnessand guilt are also common emotional symptoms of depression.

Maniais the opposite of depression. It manifests itself through varioussymptoms. Prolonged durations of happiness or elation are the mostprominent sign of this disorder. Restlessness is also another symptomthat is exhibited by people suffering from this condition. Othersymptoms include feelings of showiness, which makes the victims beextremely boastful and egocentric. Irritability, agitation, andexcessive energy are also observed in many people.


Startingwith depression, low energy levels and signs of fatigue is the mostcommon physical symptom of mood disorders. Eating disorders are alsoa common symptom. Many people lose their appetite or start overeatingwhen they are going through their depression episodes. As earliermentioned, people with depression have difficulties performingroutine activities. This is caused by difficulty in recallingdetails, making rational decisions and concentrating on any activity(Soggie, 2009). Oversleeping or insomnia also occurs in mostindividuals. Mood disorders may also be accompanied by headaches andother body pains.

Maniahas different physical symptoms of manifestation. Racing thoughts andconstant shifting from one idea to another is very common. Thevictims also exhibit rapid or rushed speech when they communicatewith other people. Other people tend to take increase their adoptionof goal-motivated activities in life. Due to the rush, they do mostthings with, they are easily distracted from what they are doing,saying or thinking. Insomnia and hypersexual traits are also commonphysical symptoms of mania.

Effectsof Mood Disorders

Whetherit is depression, mania or any other type of mood disorders, severaleffects come to light. These effects are manifested by the victims,but they have far-reaching implications. They affect not only thevictim but all the people they interact with. These effects includedamaged relationships and relations, reduced performance in school orplaces of work, and legal, social and economic repercussions ofimpulsive decisions (Soggie, 2009). Self-mutilation and side effectsof medical drugs are also common. Suicide, which mostly occurs inextreme cases of depression, shall be the focus of the rest of thepaper.

TheLink between

Moodepisodes are solely responsible for the biggest portion of suiciderisk factors. This scenario implies that mood disorders play aparamount role in influencing suicidal behavior. In this case,depression plays a bigger role than the other types of mooddisorders. As earlier mentioned under the emotional and physicalsymptoms of mood disorders, suicide and suicidal thoughts are moredominant in people suffering from depression than those with othertypes of mood disorders. Experts in this field share the commonbelief that suicidal thoughts are a very common symptom exhibited bypeople with mood disorders.

Tofully understand why mood disorders are a critical aspect ofsuicides, it is crucial to examine the statistics that have producedby previous studies on this matter. Suicide is a very prevalentproblem across the globe. For instance, data provided by the WorldHealth Organization showed that in Canada alone, there were 3,613cases of suicide in 2004. On average, this figure represents aboutten suicides every day. This number is more than enough curse foralarm. In many other countries across the globe, suicide cases vary,but the bottom line is that suicides occur in every country (Ghaemi,2008).

Havingevaluated the extent to which suicide is a matter of concern,examining the role that mood disorders in suicides will helpunderstand the connection between the two and how to remedy thesituation. In this light, some facts have been developed to paint aclear picture of the link between mood disorders and suicide. One ofthese facts is that four in every five suicides are executed bypeople who are suffering from any form of depression. It is also afact that around 60 to 80% of adults who commit suicide have had someform of depression at a certain point in their life. These facts showthe link that exists between mood disorders and suicide.

Suicideand Bipolar Disorder

Accordingto Ghaemi (200), one in every 200 people suffers from bipolardisorder, affecting both men and women equally. This condition rankssecond among mental illnesses. It only comes second to unipolardepression when examined as a cause of global disability among itspatients. People with bipolar disorder are fifteen times more likelyto commit suicide compared to people without the condition. Thepressure at places of work, school, family or emotional disturbancescreates trigger factors that push people with bipolar disorders tosuicide.

Deathand Depression

Depressionis the most common mood disorder across the globe. WHO statisticsshow that 121 million individual suffers from this mood disorder. The data goes further to state that around 6% of men and 10% of womenundergo a depressive episode annually. This information asserts whymood disorders, led by depression, are the most dominant psychiatricdrivers of suicide. The risk of suicide arising from depressionincreases if the patient has any or several of the associatedunderlying indicators. These indicators include previous cases ofself – harm, substance abuse, personality disorders and chronicdiseases such as cancer.

Suicideand Postpartum Depression

Althoughnot as widely recognized as depression and bipolar disorder,postpartum depression affects 1 in every eight women across theglobe. It is a temporary depression that affects women duringpregnancy and childbirth, mostly after delivery. Anxiety, sleepingproblem, and exhaustion are some of the common symptoms of thiscondition. In elevated cases, it leads to suicidal thoughts andattempts in the affected women especially in the first year afterdelivery (Shives, 2008).

Suicideand Schizophrenia

Schizophreniais another type of mood disorder that is seen to cause suicide in itspatients. People with this condition have a problem distinguishingbetween reality and imagination. They also appear withdrawn andunsociable (Johnson, 2011). Around 24 million people across the worldsuffer from this condition. Individuals suffering from this conditionhave four times more chances of committing suicide as compared tonormal people. A study by the World health Organization reported thatthe leading cause of death of people with schizophrenia is suicide,with most suicides occurring at the onset of the illness. Their risksfactors include lack of medical care, chronic diseases, andstigmatization.


Suicideis one of the leading causes of death in the world. In some countriessuch as Canada, as earlier mentioned, suicide rates are as high as 10per day. It is, therefore, to find the underlying causes of thesesuicides as the first step towards reducing them. In this light, therole of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder insuicides comes to focus. These mood disorders are seen to magnify therisk of suicide across the population. People who exhibit thesedisorders have higher chances of contemplating and attempting suicideas compared to people without the disorders. True to this, 80% of thepeople who commit suicide have suffered from one or several types ofmood disorders in their lifetime, with depression being the mostprevalent. More studies and research should be carried out in thisfield to provide a clear explanation of what causes mood imbalancesand what can be done to prevent it and the suicides it causes.


Barlow,David H., &amp Durand, V. Mark. (2011). CengageAdvantage Books, Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach.Wadsworth Pub Co.

Ghaemi,S. N. (2008). Mooddisorders: A practical guide.Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams &ampWilkins.

Johnson,B. A. (2011). Addictionmedicine: Science and practice.New York: Springer.

Shives,L. R. (2008). Basicconcepts of psychiatric-mental health nursing.Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer / Lippincott Williams &amp Wilkins.

Soggie,N. A. (2009). Professionalhandbook for mood and anxiety disorders.Lanham: University Press of America.

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