Does My Inflamed Brain Make Me Suicidal?

Studies link suicidal ideations to brain inflammation

Toni Tails
Dec 18, 2019 · 3 min read
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Image by Ulkar - license purchased by the author

There is evidence that suicidal ideation may be linked to brain inflammation.¹ This is good news for me because I’ve been suicidal most of my life. If there are physical symptoms that can be treated, that gives me another weapon in my arsenal to defeat suicide.

Brain Inflammation

The field now has two independent reports - our study and a 2015 report by Setiawan and colleagues in Toronto - showing essentially the same thing: that there is evidence for inflammation, more specifically microglial activation, in the brains of living patients during a major depressive episode.” — Dr. Peter Talbot

A study by The Society of Biological Psychiatry says that depressive disorder is associated with raised peripheral inflammatory markers called *TSPO. Their study found evidence that inflammation is involved in suicidal behavior. ²

Causes

Marwa Azab Ph.D. says that there are environmental factors that can cause inflammation and elevate the risk of depression. These factors are stress, low socioeconomic status, or a troubled childhood.³

I was physically and sexually abused growing up. There were times we lived in hovels and slept on dirty laundry. We ate whatever we could find- even when the food was contaminated by vermin. The point is that I definitely fit the criteria for someone who is likely to experience brain inflammation.

Suicidal Ideation Defeats Reason

When I’m feeling suicidal, the world flips upside down. I only think rationally to a point.

I see everything about myself in a negative light. My writing is inauthentic. My art is vacuous. When I look at my reflection in the mirror my features become distorted.

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Photo by Olly — license purchased by the author

Marwa Azab Ph.D says that pro-inflammatory factors give rise to “sickness behaviors.” Sickness behaviors include physical, cognitive and behavioral changes.³ This means that my irrational thoughts could be caused, in part, by prolonged brain inflammation.

Treatment

I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar 2, PTSD, and depression. I take anti-depressents, mood enhancers, and anxiety medication. None of this alleviates my almost daily thoughts of suicide.

It’s taken 35 years for me to admit that I can’t make my suicidal thoughts go away on my own. I can only prepare ahead.

The good news is there are already treatments in place for encephalitis, the official term for brain inflammation. As studies continue, I have high hopes that a treatment will be found to help me and others like me who want to win the fight against suicide.

Every day I’m alive, I’ve won a battle. Hopefully someday I can win the war.

*Translocator protein (TSPO), is upregulated in activated glia (predominantly microglia), can be measured as an indication of neuroinflammation

¹ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319526.php

² https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(17)31857-7/fulltext

³ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuroscience-in-everyday-life/201810/the-brain-fire-depression-and-inflammation

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Toni Tails

Written by

CEO of ToniTails.com | Published Author & Illustrator| Body Positive Graphic Artist | Autism Mama | Survivor of Child Sex Abuse | PTSD ADHD Queer Babe | she/her

SURVIVORS

SURVIVORS

A publication for sexual assault survivors to share their stories, poems, art, and narrative. Our voices need to be heard!

Toni Tails

Written by

CEO of ToniTails.com | Published Author & Illustrator| Body Positive Graphic Artist | Autism Mama | Survivor of Child Sex Abuse | PTSD ADHD Queer Babe | she/her

SURVIVORS

SURVIVORS

A publication for sexual assault survivors to share their stories, poems, art, and narrative. Our voices need to be heard!

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