What if we’ve been treating suicidal behavior all wrong?
As New Scientist details, a significant and growing number of psychiatrists are suggesting that suicidal behavior may not just be a symptom of a mood disorder.
In fact, they say there is evidence enough to warrant investigating suicide as a disorder in its own right.
So what is the evidence? Below are a few talking points.
With all this in mind, clinicians are keen to break from the tradition of diagnosing and classifying patients with broad terms like depression, which risks creating biases in treatment, in favor of more evidence-led treatments based on particular patient behavior and biology.
Separating suicide from mood disorders would be in line with this emerging change in clinical diagnosis.
While there is as yet no specific plan for the naming of a “suicide behavior disorder,” clinicians calling for the change hope that making the distinction between this and mood disorders may create opportunities for much needed research into the phenomenon of suicide.
In turn, they hope that the research could at last suggest specific and targeted treatments for suicidal behavior that will lead to more life-saving early interventions — and there are a number of good reasons why action may be desirable sooner rather than later.
Chief among them is the fact that certain anti-depressants are known to increase the frequency of suicide attempts.
If a suicidal patient does not present with a wider mood disorder, but would be prescribed anti-depressants as a matter of routine per current diagnostic guidelines, there is a very clear need to carefully examine whether treating suicide as a separate disorder could benefit patient care and whether it could, in fact, even save lives.
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