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Treating Anxiety and Suicidality

September 7, 2018 George Abitante

Anxiety and suicidality often coexist, but many of us don't know how to deal with both problems. Learn ways to treat anxiety and suicidality at HealthyPlace.

Treating anxiety and suicidality may not be something you think about, but anxiety is a heterogeneous disorder, encompassing a wide array of symptoms and consequently requiring distinct treatments. Although people often think of depression being involved in suicide, fewer realize that different types of anxiety contribute to suicide as well. Social anxiety, emotional dysregulation, and distress intolerance are associated with suicidal thoughts in adolescents. Panic disorder also increases the risk of suicide and is associated with higher levels of impulsivity, depression, and hopelessness. Higher suicide risk has also been demonstrated in individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  

There are many forms of anxiety that can increase the risk of suicidality, so what can be done to combat them? Fortunately, there are a number of tools and skills that can be developed to protect against suicidality and anxiety.  

Protective Factors Against Suicidality in Anxiety

  1. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT has considerable benefits for anxiety that can last beyond the end of treatment. For example, successful CBT treatment for anxiety in childhood reduced the likelihood of suicidal ideation later in life. This provides support for the value of early identification and treatment of anxiety disorders and suggests that early treatment has significant implications for long-term health. CBT techniques can be obtained through traditional therapy settings, but you can also use online resources to practice them independently. 
  2. Resilience. Developing resilience has been shown to be protective in numerous ways, but it has been particularly useful for reducing anxiety and suicidality. Resilience involves numerous protective components spanning environmental, cognitive, and emotional factors. Resilience is not a stable character trait but can be developed over time through behavioral changes or even medication, and so developing resilience is a great way to work through anxiety. 
  3. Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. Mindfulness meditation has developed into a great resource for treating anxiety and suicidality and even depression. In a study of veterans, it was found that a mindfulness-based stress reduction program reduced anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation, suggesting that mindfulness can be a valuable treatment not only for reducing anxiety but also suicidal ideation. Cultivating a mindfulness meditation practice can be started with just a few minutes a day, and can provide a strong foundation for reducing anxiety. 

Anxiety can be a challenging condition to work through, but there are many excellent treatments and tools currently available that significantly improve the symptoms of anxiety. What other techniques do you use for your anxiety and suicidality? 

If you feel you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately. 

If you need help with distressing thoughts (including suicidal thoughts), call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 

For more information on suicide, please see our suicide resources here.

Sources

  1. Min, Jung-Ah, "Resilience Moderates The Risk Of Depression And Anxiety Symptoms On Suicidal Ideation In Patients With Depression And/Or Anxiety Disorders". Comprehensive Psychiatry. 2015. 
  2. Wolk, Courtney Benjamin, "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy For Child Anxiety Confers LongTerm Protection From Suicidality"Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryMarch 2015.
  3. Serpa, Greg J., "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Reduces Anxiety, Depression, And Suicidal Ideation In Veterans". Medical Care. December 2014. 
  4. Diefenbach, Gretchen J., "The Association Between Self-Reported Anxiety Symptoms And Suicidality". The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. February 2009.
  5. Kelly, Owen, "The Link Between OCD and Suicide". verywellmind. June 2018. 

APA Reference
Abitante, G. (2018, September 7). Treating Anxiety and Suicidality, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/treatinganxiety/2018/9/treating-anxiety-and-suicidality



Author: George Abitante

George is a Master's Student in Clinical Psychology at Northwestern University and is focused on improving the efficacy and accessibility of treatments for depression and anxiety. Find him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @AbitanteGeorge.

June Maraviglia
says:
June, 22 2019 at 12:41 pm
I need help badly..I've got heart disease..need knee replacements..I'm on pain relieversand adivans. Which simply doesn't help my problems...just g asv ed me drug dependency...my did is also in Herat failure ur doesnt seem to be suffering..its effected his mental capabilities and pees and poops all over constantly ..which ok i



m forced to deal with on a 10 to 15 times a day banishes not ready to b ed put down..because of the stress hes putting me thru...that's not a basis for ending g his life....I've. Become indigent because of the care if my dog....I'm paralyzed by depression every minute of every day...I'm scared..cause I cant shake it off like I used to...I'm seriously at the end of my rope
June, 24 2019 at 10:21 am
Hi June,

I'm sorry to hear about how much you're dealing with right now. Your doctor can provide valuable help to you, so do your best to schedule a time in the near future to meet with them. They will be able to provide support and resources that will really help you. All the best,

George

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