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When left untreated, depression can have serious consequences.


If left untreated, depression can have serious — and sometimes long-term — consequences that can affect every aspect of your life. Fortunately, depression is treatable. By getting help and following your treatment plan, you can prevent these complications.

Suicide. Having thoughts of death and suicide are symptoms of depression. If depression is left untreated, these thoughts can get worse. Sometimes, you or a friend might feel like suicide is the only way out, the only way to escape the pain. This isn’t true. There are many effective ways to reduce depression symptoms and get better. Remember, these terrible feelings and thoughts are not constant and will pass. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please get help immediately. You can get confidential support and help for free by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or reach out to your counseling center or a local emergency room. If someone is in imminent risk of harm, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Addiction. Depression symptoms rarely go away if untreated — in fact, they tend to get worse. Often, to alleviate the symptoms, people turn to self-medicating with substances. The truth is that drugs and alcohol not only worsen symptoms, but they can also increase the chances that you get addicted to these substances. Combining drugs and alcohol with depression is a dangerous mix, which can increase the risk for suicide and further your depression.

Self-injury. Another way some people try to cope with depression is by self-injuring or inflicting pain upon themselves with methods like cutting or burning. While some people don’t intend to deliberately harm themselves with these behaviors, serious or life-threatening injuries and accidental deaths can result.

Reckless behavior. When people are feeling hopeless, angry or really bad about themselves, they are less likely to take care of themselves and think about the consequences of their actions. Depressed individuals may put themselves in risky situations, with potentially dangerous consequences (e.g., driving drunk, unprotected sex).

Poor School Performance. Untreated depression ¬can make it very difficult to go to class and complete assignments. That’s because depression diminishes one’s ability to concentrate, remember things and make decisions. For some people, even getting out of bed requires extra effort. That’s why it’s important to get help before symptoms get worse and start interfering with school and other aspects of one’s life.

Relationship Problems. Consider how your relationships suffer when you’re stressed out: You might lash out at loved ones, stop going to social events or just want to be left alone. The same thing can happen with untreated depression — except that it’s worse, as depression’s symptoms are more severe. Depression leaves people drained emotionally, mentally and physically, so it becomes hard to be there for friends and family.

Health Concerns. Depression can become an unhealthy cycle. People with depression need to take good care of themselves to feel better, but because of the symptoms, they are unable to sleep (or sleep too much), don’t want to eat and have no interest in exercise. Because they are unable or unwilling to do these things, the depression worsens and health suffers. When we don’t take care of ourselves it can leave us vulnerable to other illnesses, such as the flu, or worsen health conditions we already have, such as diabetes.

Remember, depression is treatable and so all of these dangerous consequences of untreated depression can be avoided. Check out the resources for getting help on your campus.