Signs & Symptoms of Suicidal Depression: Lessons from “A Million Little Things”
Depression is often difficult to see until the affected person seeks help.
When it comes to ABC’s hit show “A Million Little Things,” a friend commits suicide and leaves a wake of confusion behind. The show has brought attention to the nature of suicidal depression.
Those who are affected by suicidal depression sometimes present a pattern of not revealing their illness. Each day, they contemplate the moment of suicide as a deliberate and well-thought act. While the event shocks friends and family, the idea has been present all along. The help for depression could have come much sooner, and this is the premise of “A Million Little Things” depression.
The show unravels reasons why the character, Jon, committed suicide and the plans he put in place for after his death.
How Does Friendship Influence Depression?
“Friendship isn’t a big thing. It’s a million little things.”
While it appears that Jon had everything he wanted in life, many cracks start to show with “A Million Little Things” depression. Flashing back to the time before his death, it’s apparent Jon had hidden traumas and a deteriorated sense of community, two factors for building stress resilience.
Just as depression isn’t one thing, friendship is not one thing. The relationships formed are complicated and not easily understood as leading to Jon’s depression and suicide, but all characters seem to be in a crisis with attempts to hide it from one another.
Adult friendships often have boundaries from discussing what’s happening underneath. That is why it’s important to find someone to talk to through depression. “A Million Little Things” displays how friends who once connected over a deep moment of understanding can drift apart and no longer share what is most important in life.
Jon is connected to many happy memories with his friends, but the question still remains: Why would he commit suicide?
Why Did Jon Kill Himself in “A Million Little Things”?
In the season finale, new insight was revealed as to why the character committed suicide.
17 years earlier, in 2001, Jon was going to a real estate conference in L.A. for work. He asked his roommate, Dave, to join him on the trip so they could hang out and make it a good time. In the airport on the way to his terminal Jon stopped at concessions, which caused him to be late and the gate was closed for his flight. Dave had boarded the plane already, so Jon called him, let him know he couldn’t make it, and planned to catch the next flight out.
As it turns out, the flight was hijacked and involved in one of the crashes of 9/11. Jon watched the news footage in the airport. He kept in touch with Dave’s girlfriend after the event, as she was pregnant, and it was revealed that the day he committed suicide he had sent her a video apologizing and expressing his deep grief even 17 years later.
Grief and trauma are deeply damaging emotions which leave a lasting impact on brain health when not managed in a healthy way. The symptoms of grief and trauma are often diagnosed as PTSD. It is highly important to be evaluated by a professional for this disorder, as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may also cause the same symptoms as PTSD.
This is why Amen Clinics specializes in brain SPECT imaging for mapping blood flow in the brain and identifying functional abnormalities. While Jon from “A Million Little Things” is a fictional character, had he undergone our evaluation process at Amen Clinics, he would receive a full evaluation to rule out a TBI.
Symptoms of Suicidal Depression
The responsibility to get better always lies on the person needing to get better, but when it comes to depression, friends and family are essential to seeing the signs and pushing the loved one to seek help.
Recognizing depression is the first step. Amen Clinics has identified seven total types of anxiety and depression while the following are symptoms of “pure depression”:
● Persistent sad or negative mood
● Loss of interest in usually pleasurable activities
● Restlessness, irritability or excessive crying
● Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, hopelessness or pessimism
● Sleeping too much or too little, or early morning awakening
● Decreased appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
● Decreased energy, fatigue or feeling “slowed down”
● Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
● Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
● Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive problems or chronic pain
● Chronic low self-esteem
● Persistent feeling of being dissatisfied or bored
● Increased automatic negative thoughts
Friends might notice a sudden calmness influence the depressed loved one, which may indicate a decision to end his or her life. This may be followed by personality changes, such as partaking in reckless behavior or not taking care of one’s hygiene. They may also feel the need to get their life in order for others to inherit their belongings, such as making sudden business decisions.
If the loved one has gone through a recent traumatic event, they may be overwhelmed with stress and have run out of ways to cope. Everyone has what is referred to as “brain reserve,” which is your brain’s extra function and tissue left to deal with harmful life events. When we run out of brain reserve, we begin to experience mental decline.
Those affected by the symptoms of depression must be pushed towards a diagnosis in order to get the help they deserve. Depression comes in many forms and treatment varies, requiring expert care.
Treatment for Suicidal Depression
At Amen Clinics, we are dedicated to offering attentive support with proven treatments for patients suffering from suicidal depression.
Depression is not diagnosed as one thing and has many causes. Treatment must be carefully given to address the root cause of the problem. Our approach is not “one size fits all” as we conduct a complete health assessment of each patient’s biological, psychological, social and spiritual influences.
Unlike most psychiatrists who treat depression, we conduct neuropsychological tests and perform brain SPECT scans to identify any abnormalities in the brain before diagnosis. We also order lab tests to rule out deficiencies, hormone imbalances and toxic exposure.
We have eight locations across the country in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. We also have locations in Orange County, CA, in Walnut Creek, CA, and in Bellevue, WA.
For more on Dr. Amen’s approach on depression and anxiety, watch the video below with an intimate chat between Dr. Amen and his wife, Tana Amen.