Sunday, December 9, 2018

Yes, People Can Die From Giving Up on Life

Psychogenic Death

FEELING DEFEATED AND giving up on life can lead to death, according to new research.

A study published in ScienceDirect examined the condition, which "describes people who respond to traumatic stress by developing extreme apathy, give up hope, relinquish the will to live and die, despite no obvious organic cause."

The phenomenon occurs when someone experiences a trauma they feel they cannot escape, making death seem like their only option. Dr. John Leach, author and research fellow at the University of Portsmouth, drew a distinction between the condition and suicide.

"Psychogenic death is real," Leach said in a press release. "It isn't suicide, it isn't linked to depression, but the act of giving up on life and dying usually within days, is a very real condition often linked to severe trauma."

According to Leach's research, the condition has five stages: First is social withdrawal. Following a trauma, people may become self-absorbed and indifferent and show a lack of emotion. The second is apathy – an emotional or symbolic "death," researchers say. Apathy is "a demoralizing melancholy different to anger, sadness or frustration."

The third stage is an extreme lack of motivation paired with a weakened emotional response, known as aboulia. It makes it difficult to make decisions and take initiative. People in this stage usually lack cleanliness and frequently stop eating. The fourth stage is psychic akinesia. Although this person is conscious, they are in a state of extreme apathy and do not react to extreme pain.

Psychogenic Death

The final stage is psychogenic death. Leach states this is the "disintegration of a person." He said "nothing … can make them want to live."

Leach stated that the psychological deterioration could originate from a "malfunction" in the anterior cingulate circuit in the brain due to severe trauma. This part of the brain controls how someone maintains goal-directed behavior and is responsible for a person's motivation.

"Motivation is essential for coping with life and if that fails," Leach said, "apathy is almost inevitable."

The condition is reversible, however. Intervention can be taken in any of the various stages. Such interventions include physical activity and a person regaining a sense of control of their life.

By Alexa Lardieri, U.S News

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