Loss/Grief

Some men who drastically lower their cholesterol level experience depression, suicidal tendencies, and a higher rate of accidents. (Dossey, Larry, MD. Be Careful What You Pray For. P 43. NY:HarperCollins, 1998.)

Elevated 24-hour urinary cortisol production was found in patients who recently attempted suicide, compared with patients who did not have a history of suicidal behavior. (van Heeringen, Cornelius, MD PhD. ‘Suicide, serotonin, and the brain.’ Crisis 22: 66-70)

A study has shown dysregulation of Corticotropin-releasing Hormone or CRH and GABA as well as other brain chemicals in the brains of those who committed suicide. This study is the first to show the integration of GABAA subunit mRNAs in frontal brain regions, and the first to demonstrate that dysregulation occurs in association with a psychopathological state. (http://www.jneurosci.org/content/24/6/1478.full)

Neurons in the dorsal raphe nucleus (brain stem) produce serotonin. They have long projections that carry the neurotransmitter to the orbital prefrontacortex. In suicide victims, the dorsal raphe nucleus sends less than normal amounts of serotonin to the orbital prefrontal cortex. (Ezzell, Carol. "Why? The Neuroscience of Suicide." Scientific American, February 2003. Scientific American Inc, NY. ISSN # 0036-8733, pp 45-51)

Significantly higher CRF (Corticotropin-releasing Factor) concentrations were found in the suicide group than in the controls. Retrospective psychiatric assessments on 200 comparable cases of consummated suicide from the same forensic institute showed sixty-one percent of these suffered from a recent episode of affective disorder. It is assumed that the elevated CRF concentration found in suicides can be related to their under-lying depression and not to the suicidal behavior, as we found no differences in CSF CRF between suicidal and nonsuicidal depressed patients in a clinical investigation. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/20618714_CRF_in_suicide_victims)

There is an overproduction of the major HPA-stimulating neuropeptide Corticotropin-releasing Factor or CRF within the Central Nervous System or CNS in psychiatric patients with major depression. The CSF CRF immunoreactivity appears to be unrelated to the actual suicidal behavior and is only parallel with the depressive syndrome. The major (endogenous-type) depressive syndrome in its complexity appears to be related to the endocrine dysfunction. Major depression is one important cause of suicidal acts and therefore its biological basis, including HPA axis overactivity probably due to primary CRF excess, must be kept in mind in both prevention and treatment of suicide. (Banki, C.M., et al. “Cerebrospinal fluid amine metabolites and neuroendocrine findings: biochemical markers in suicidal patients.” J Affect Disord 6:341-350. Banki, C.M., et al. “Cerebrospinal fluid corticotropin-like immunoreactivity in depression and schizophrenia.” Am J Psychiatry 144:873-877.)

Neurons in the reptilian brain layer (the dorsal raphe nucleus in the brain stem) produce serotonin. They have long projections that carry the neurotransmitter to the prefrontal cortex. In suicide victims, the dorsal raphe nucleus sends less than normal amounts of serotonin to the orbital prefrontal cortex. (Why? The Neuroscience of Suicide. Carol Ezzell. Scientific American, February 2003. Scientific American Inc, NY. ISSN # 0036-8733, pp 45-51)

Studies by Cornelius van Heeringen MD PhD of The Netherlands has pointed out that suicide may be a unique entity, reflecting the culmination of several complex processes (i.e., not simply depression, but also impulsivity, disinhibition, anxiety, and executive functioning). (van Heeringen, Cornelius. ‘Suicide, serotonin, and the brain.’ Crisis 22: 66-70)

There is clear evidence that the activity of three neurobiological systems has a role in the pathophysiology of suicidal behavior:

  1. Hyperactivity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis
  2. Dysfunction of the serotonergic (5-HTergic) system
  3. Excessive activity of the norepinephrine system. (Norepinephrine is both a neurotransmitter and a hormone which makes it very powerful. Elevated noradrenergic activity inhibits output neural activity in the forebrain regions of the brain that helps regulate behavior. It exerts effects on large areas of the brain including alertness, arousal, and readiness for action.)

(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12866334)

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