Reducing The 100-Fold To 400-Fold Greater Suicide Rate In End Stage CKD-Dialysis Patients



A regular viewer wrote, "I don't know what to say except...this disease has got me so down I've been off work etc...I've been and am sometimes suicidal."

Recommended Reading: Does the Type of Dialysis Treatment Make a Difference to the Quality of Life and Suicidal Thoughts?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the suicide rate in the United States has "ballooned to its highest level in three decades," reported What's more,  Renal & Urology News has suggested that early withdrawal rates[discontinuation of Dialysis Treatments] more than tripled among Chronic Kidney Disease patients. Even for many patients that maintain regular Dialysis Treatments as they continue to search for alternatives are robbed of their happiness over a period of weeks, months or even years as they struggle with a constant feeling of depression. While depression alone may not be the only reason for high rates of suicide and Dialysis withdrawal in the Chronic Kidney Disease Community, it may be an important contributor. However, depression is treatable and if identified and improved it may help Chronic Kidney Disease patients lead a higher quality and longer life, especially those conducting Dialysis. 

Recommended Reading: Why Some Suffering with Chronic Kidney Disease Don't Care Whether They Live or Die

Depression has been identified by studies published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology as the "most common psychiatric (relating to mental illness) illness in patients with End Stage Renal Disease (kidney failure)." As a result, previous estimates of the risk for suicide among End Stage patients were 100-fold to 400-fold greater than in the general population. 

Recommended Reading: Handling the Anger Naturally Associated with End-Stage Renal Disease Improves Health Outcomes

Common reasons for depression as it relates to Dialysis which may possibly contribute to Chronic Kidney Disease patients choosing to give up include: 

  • Having to go to Dialysis Treatments three times a week or more. There appears to be no escape.
  • The term End Stage Renal Disease sounds like the last chapter and could really impact how patients view their diagnosis. 
  • Having to wait for transportation and feeling a loss of independence.
  • Not feeling great after treatment (pain, wipe-out, nausea, and/or exhaustion).
  • Continual health complications (if it is not one issue, then it is another).

Dialysis is just extremely hard and we here at get that. Hence, having depression in no way indicates that a Chronic Kidney Disease patient has any sort of flaws in his/her character. However, by identifying common symptoms of depression and implementing possible solutions, then patients may improve their health outcomes. 

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, hopeless, or empty feelings
  • Loss of interest in activities usually enjoyed
  • Fatigue (loss of energy)
  • Feeling worthless, helpless, or guilty
  • Large weight loss - or gain
  • Insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling restless and irritable
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Solutions to help Chronic Kidney Disease patients treat depression as offered by the American Academy of Family Physicians include:

1. Stay active. - Try to stay as active as you can by walking for a certain amount of time every day. Addressing some of your basic physical needs can be a big emotional boost.

2. Make time for the fun stuff. - Even though you may feel lousy some days, specifically after Dialysis treatments, try your best to do something fun and enjoyable. It does not have to be major. Talk to your kids/grandkids, watch a favorite program, read some fun jokes, listen to a few of your favorite songs. This can help improve your mood.

3. Spend time with loved ones. - Hopefully, you have people in your life that love and support you. Try to avoid people that bring negative energy into your day. However, strike up a conversation with those people that you know listen and want the best for you. You do not have to talk about Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis if you do not want to. Just having a conversation with your loved one, whether in person or via phone, can make a world of difference. If you do not have a person in your life that you can talk to, then ask your Dialysis Social Worker for resources. 

4. Relax. - The Team knows that this is easier said than done. Still, do your best to limit anxiety and remain as calm throughout your day as you can. Try meditation (click here), deep breathing exercises (click here), a warm bath or just find a quiet, comfortable, inviting place in your area and say reassuring things silently to yourself.  When you are not as anxious, you can better deal with the day-to-day challenges which every Chronic Kidney Disease patient must face.

5. Set simple goals and take small steps. - Try to adjust to a new normal of setting achievable goals and taking small deliberate steps to achieve them. You are not as healthy as you likely once were. We at know that it is challenging, but do your best not to overcommit yourself since this can lead to an overwhelming feeling and depression. Keep a scheduling book and set events accordingly with plenty of time between to recover.

Recommended Reading: Depression Affects Chronic Kidney Disease Patients

How do you deal with the feeling of helplessness, sadness, overwhelm, anxiety, and depression? Visit the Facebook Page and share your response with the over 39,000 Friends (click here). Also, stop by (1.2 million visitors in the past twelve months) every day for the latest breaking news and information which teaches those with Chronic Kidney Disease, Dialysis, Kidney Transplant, Diabetes, and High Blood Pressure how to better manage and improve their lives.

Most Popular Stories: