Depression and Its Serious Complications
When suffering from major depression (officially called major depressive disorder), people have different ways of
confronting it. Some depressed individuals acknowledge its existence, face it just like any medical problem, and
seek help. Some ignore it as if it doesn’t exist. And others simply accept that it’s there but they don’t do
anything about it. In fact, they don’t even ask for help.
Those who ignore and don’t do anything run the risk of developing serious complications. Like any medical disorder,
untreated major depression has its hazards.
What are some of the complications of major depression? How serious are they?
Without treatment, some depressed individuals feel hopeless, helpless, and worthless. Gradually, thoughts of death
occur. They sometimes feel that there’s no reason for them to live and that they are better-off dead than alive.
Some even wish that they should not wake up in the morning.
As the illness worsens, suicidality eventually follows. When this happens, depressed individuals develop thoughts
of harming themselves. Some even attempt and are successful in killing themselves through overdosing, hanging,
wrist slashing, jumping from a tall building, or shooting.
Although rare, homicidal behavior is possible. As depression becomes severe, individuals are susceptible to cause
harm as they develop impaired judgment. Some have frequent ideas of harming others including their loved ones.
Some become a threat to society as they kill others by drowning, shooting, or using a knife. Recent stories in the
media have shown how unrecognized and untreated mental illness can be devastating to many families.
Major depression also causes disturbances in perception and thinking. Some depressed individuals experience
auditory hallucinations (hearing voices) and delusions (false fixed beliefs). Some hear voices telling them that
they’re “no good” or that they “can’t amount to anything.” At times, auditory hallucinations can manifest as
commands telling them to harm themselves or others.
Delusions can range from suspiciousness to bizarre beliefs. Some think that people are talking about them or that
their spouses are out to get them. Occasionally, they develop the beliefs that they’re the “Anointed One,” that
they have a special mission to “cleanse the world of evil.”
It’s common for depressed individuals to develop poor energy and loss of interest to do their usual activities.
These individuals stay in bed the whole day and can hardly do chores. Even answering the phone becomes a huge
endeavor. Some depressed parents can’t attend to their children’s needs. How can they help when they can’t even
look after themselves?
Because of impaired concentration, they can’t finish a simple task or a work-related project. As a result, their
performance at work seriously suffers. Work absences, job losses, and eventually financial problems may be the
Because of continuing behavioral and thought disturbances, some family members don’t understand what is going on.
It is not uncommon to see unsupportive friends, spouses, parents, and children during these difficult times.
Fights, ridicule, name-calling, and arguments among family members further aggravate the volatile situation.
As relationships become more strained, depressed individuals have more reason to isolate themselves from friends
and relatives. They don’t even bother to answer the phone or to open the door for visiting family members.
In summary, major depression, like hypertension, has fatal consequences. Ignoring it is too risky. Doing nothing is
a grave mistake. Early recognition and timely administration of treatment can prevent its unwanted
by Michael G. Rayel, MD -
Dr. Michael G. Rayel - author, game inventor, and psychiatrist - has created the Oikos Game Series to promote
emotional health and has provided EQ Webinar for parenting, personal, and career success. For more info, visit
www.oikosglobal.com or www.psychedu.com.