Depression and suicide are becoming extremely relevant in today’s society. While gaining access to treatment and care is possible, lack of drive to seek help or lack of funding hospitals leads to more and more deaths from suicide every year. Not only is this a problem for the individual, but it also prevents an issue for health care professionals. From antidepressants to therapy, the treatment for this disorder is there, but there is a lot that could be done to grow this department of health care. This study focuses on the evolution of the treatment of these patients, and how they are treated today. While the main focus is on the challenges they face while gaining access to care and facilities to make them better, along with how to improve the current care of patients that suffer from depression and suicidality.
Suicidal Patients Seeking Help in Health Care
Mental health patients, specifically those with severe depression and suicidal thoughts or attempts, face immense difficulty in health care. In 2012, my father committed suicide. I was only thirteen, but I remember how difficult it was for him to get the help he needed. He was placed into a psychiatric hospital but was able to check himself out after one week. While the doctors may have done all they could, I remember thinking, “how could this be all they could do?”. This is what drove me to do my paper on the treatment of suicidal patients and the problems they face in getting the help they need. When people attempt suicide, they do not always want help, even though they should have it. On the other hand, the patients often times do not have the access they need to get help. So, how do hospitals deal with the treatment of suicidal patients?
Challenges for Suicidal Patients and Health Professionals
Depression has been around for ages, but it is becoming more and more relevant in today’s society. Health care for those that suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts has come a long way. In the early years, mental illness as a whole was thought to be a spiritual force. Mental health professionals later believed that it was in fact something in your brain. Luckily treatment for depression has come a long way, otherwise we would still have people “helping” by beating, giving the patient the milk of a donkey, or even conducting witch hunts (Schimelpfenning, 2018). While there still is not cure, there is many things that can help these patients overcome depression or recover from a suicidal attempt. Medication may be taken to increase the patients’ levels of serotonin, which helps make them happier. Currently, antidepressants are the most common way to treat severe obdurate depression, but they come with many side-effects. Even if someone does not have any side effects, it is likely that the drug will only have an effect on their level of depression for a short period of time. Harvard Health Publishing states that this happens because, the brain has become less responsive to the drug” (2014). Unfortunately, these side effects can cause patients to refuse treatment leaving them stuck with no solution. This includes anything from a decrease in sex drive, to migraines, to even a decrease in your ability to clot blood. Another popular option is talking to a therapist. If the depression leads to suicide attempts or even suicidal thoughts, some sort of hospital is recommended (Burroughs, Doy, Scott, 2005). If a patient goes into a hospital for help with suicidal thoughts or severe depression, they will first be looked at for how severe their condition is. After they have been reviewed by a medical professional, they will either be forced to go into hospitalization and under close care or told they can return home. If the patient must be hospitalized, they normally have to stay for three days with the possibility of three more. These treatment options can differ depending on where you are geographically located. A big challenge for depressed patients and those in the health field dealing with suicidal patients is them not having anywhere to go. Often times there is not room available at a local psychiatric hospital. A huge problem for these patients is that even if they are sent to a hospital, most patients have to leave while they are still considered at risk for a suicidal attempt for financial reasons (Reiss & Dombeck). In a study by Oiesvol, Bakkejord, Nivison, Hansen, and Sorgaard, “676 first-time admissions were retrospectively checked for suicidality at the time of admission” to a psychiatric hospital. They found that, “52.2% of all patients admitted had suicidal ideas at admission and 19.7% had attempted suicide”. The results they found goes to show the large effect of these hospitals in helping with suicidal patients (2011).
The accessibility of treatment of depression and suicidality in adolescents is a little bit more complicated than that of an adult. Children must go to an adult, likely a parent or guardian to access help with their care. Aside from what is going on with school, isolation from friends, and loss of interest in activities, they are afraid to seek the help they need. Wisdom, Clarke & Green state that, “Teens are sensitive to issues of confidentiality and often are reluctant to ask health providers even general health questions” (2006). Often times teens are afraid that seeking the help they really need will cause adults to think they cannot become independent. The biggest barrier for this is adolescents not feeling comfortable to get help. Over half of adolescent patients seen for suicidality are sent back home after treatment. This leads to a huge decline in the chance of that person coming back in to be seen again. (Wisdom, Clarke, & Green, 2006). Currently, there is a method in place to check teenage patients for the symptoms of depression. While this is not a requirement, it can still help health professionals detect depression early on (Siu, 2016). Without improvement in the treatment of adolescent depression, teens will go through their early years with little help and understanding of their depressed thoughts.
Improving the Care of Depressed and Suicidal Patients
The best way to help those that struggle with any mental health disorder is to improve the treatment and care they are given. So, in what ways could suicidal patients be treated differently to improve their mental health? There have been many ways to improve that care in the past, one of them being the Mental Health Parity Law of 2008. This law, “provides increased insurance coverage for mental health problems” (Asarnow and Miranda, 2015). This was a big step in the right direction and solved part of the problem of not having financial support to gain access to care. Adding to the importance of eliminating financial problems, a solution is to get rid of any costs that arise from a typical check-up. Getting the patients, the help they need early on will lead to, less patients needing full on care and treatment, less patients needing to go into psychiatric hospitals, which ultimately leads to less cost and more effectiveness. In adolescents, the best way to improve the care and lower their rate of suicide is to be persistent with their treatment. Asarnow and Miranda (2015) state that, “a brief psychotherapeutic intervention at the point of emergency contact in conjunction with continuing contact after discharge with support for linking to follow up services”, has had the best result in improving their mental state. Catching the depression early on can also improve their future with depression. Siu states that the, “treatment of MDD detected through screening in adolescents is associated with moderate benefit (for example, improved depression severity, depression symptoms, or global functioning scores.)” (2016). Improving the care of depressed and suicidal patients could result in the saving of many lives, and with proper improvements, that cumber can decrease immensely.
Reflection of Research
From this research, it is evident that the path of treatment for depressed and suicidal patients’ needs further improvement. Despite what still needs to be done, the treatment of those suffering from this disorder has come a long way and will hopefully continue to move in the right direction. There are many more resources for those struggling and a great improvement in the cutting of cost for professional help than there was before. Still far too many lives are lost every year to something that with proper treatment can be prevented. Mental illness is something to be taken seriously, and with appropriate advancements to the care they get, it will save many lives. The best way to help those in need is to continue to spread awareness to this topic and increase the funding for facilities and foundations that help these people. Knowing how to help someone get the care they need and creating a persistent plan to help them get better is key to their success in overcoming this mental illness.
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