Suicidal thoughts and the brain

I had a young person in clinic this week tell me they tried to take their life last week.

I have had three patients over the years very sadly take their life and many, many more tell me about how they struggle with suicidal thoughts and anxiety and depression.

In all cases the majority of people struggling with their mental health do a fantastic job of hiding it from everyone else particularly the people that are closest to them.

Many of these people can’t explain why they feel the way they feel but hopefully the most recent science is now starting to help us understand more.

After reviewing over 200,000 functional brain scans related to behavior it is clear that head injuries are a leading cause of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and panic disorders, PTSD, ADD/ADHD, substance abuse, psychosis, borderline and antisocial personality disorders, dementia, aggression.

Concussions and TBIs also increase the risk of suicide. When the brain has functional damage due to a head injury, it’s critical to heal the brain in order to overcome any mental health problems.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter made in the brain and plays the role of the reward centre to make you feel good. People with mental health issues to feel good can get a quick dopamine release from alcohol or drugs which can often go onto addiction.

A more long-term and healthier approach could be to do one or all of the following:

1. Exercise regularly.
2. Eat protein.
3. Reduce saturated fat consumption.
4. Pay attention to “gut health.”
5. Get enough sleep.
6. Meditate.
7. Get an appropriate amount of sunlight.
8. Listen to music you enjoy.
9. Talk with your doctor about supplements.

I count myself very lucky to be a physio and get the opportunity to interact with lots of different people everyday.

Particularly for young people looking at the news and thinking about their future now is probably more important than ever to understand how to invest in yourself and I’m excited about how the science will help us learn how to heal ourselves and undo the previous years.

Doug Jones to race in Challenge Roth Ironman ->