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Prediction and prevention of suicide in patients with unipolar depression and anxiety

Epidemiological data suggest that between 59 and 87% of suicide victims suffered from major depression while up to 15% of these patients will eventually commit suicide. Male gender, previous suicide attempt(s), comorbid mental disorders, adverse life-situations, acute psycho-social stressors etc. also constitute robust risk factors. Anxiety and minor depression present with a low to moderate increase in suicide risk but anxiety-depression comorbidity increases this risk dramatically Contrary to the traditional psychoanalytic approach which considers suicide as a retrospective murder or an aggression turned in-wards, more recent studies suggest that the motivations to commit suicide may vary and are often too obscure. Neurobiological data suggest that low brain serotonin activity might play a key role along with the tryptophan hydroxylase gene. Social factors include social support networks, religion etc. It is proven that most suicide victims had asked for professional help just before committing suicide, however they were either not diagnosed (particularly males) or the treatment they received was inappropriate or inadequate. The conclusion is that promoting suicide prevention requires the improving of training and skills of both psychiatrists and many non-psychiatrists and especially GPs in recognizing and treating depression and anxiety. A shift of focus of attention is required in primary care to detect potentially suicidal patients presenting with psychological problems. The proper use of antidepressants, after a careful diagnostic evaluation, is important and recent studies suggest that successful acute and long-term antidepressant pharmacotherapy reduces suicide morbidity and mortality.

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Correspondence to Xenia Gonda.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Keywords

  • Suicide Prevention
  • Social Support Network
  • Unipolar Depression
  • Tryptophan Hydroxylase
  • Minor Depression