Death Spiral – Identifying & Surviving

A “death spiral” 1 – is where the mind spirals out of control where a person can only think of one’s own death.


CAUSE: It is in response to / or triggered by a chemical, social, or deep psychological trauma.

Chemical – examples could be AFTER from drinking  alcohol with on antidepressants or mood stabilizers where the “death spiral” normally occurs 8-24 hours after “binge” drinking.

Social – perceived extreme social embarrassment, examples include Tyler Clementi pranked on webcam of his sexuality (reference 2 below).

Deep Psychological Trama – These are items which occur in a persons life which are one time event to deeply traumatic and high on the life change scale3 or several small events equal a high number on the live change scale.


1) Remain calm, you are not alone!

2) It is recommended to go to your emergency room or contact a professional or even an suicide hotline.

3) Enclosed which may be helpful but it for *information purposes only* and not written by a doctor nor does is substitute for seeing a doctor.

DISCLAIMER: The following not official the treatment and is not a replacement for going to the emergency room, calling your doctor and undergo professional observation during this time.


DURATION: This state lasts between 12/24 hours, the person/you should be under “safety” observation during this time.

However if home/self care must be conducted I have the following to work:

GOAL: Get through the next 24 hours safely known as the “the critical period.”

REST/SLEEP – You should be in safe place away from any instruments of harm and ideally be with a loving / supportive person where you can rest.

Rx: Prescription approach to  mental pain, a prescription tranquilizer coupled with an therapeutic dosage of an antipychotic class medication (under physician approval as part of an emergency medication plan is ideal, with notification of the doctor that they are under home care)

Or HERBAL: Alternate Herbal Therapy hyland’s calm forte (5 tablets) (act as a tranquilizer*) plus  a base dosage of Kava Kava (300mg) (acts as an antispychotic*) , repeated in 8 to 12 hour increments as the person wakes up.

STABILIZATION:  After 24 hours, ideally the personally should be professionally evaluated for suicidal idealization and taken in for professional treatment.

LONG TERM: The person working with a therapist or a support group(s), should become aware of their physical and psychological limits.  They should work to build support systems and a lifestyle which is more healthy or ways to prevent destabilization.

PROGRESS:  A “Death Spiral” and other psychological events (like panic attacks) should be recorded when they occur (date/time), and how long they last (duration). Progress is made when person has less events and the duration becomes shorter.

Note: This article does not take the place of professional help or going to your local emergency room.

Be well!

1- Formal DIAGNOSIS also known as: psychotic episode of suicidal idealization coupled with paranoia, or psychosis coupled with suicidal idealization

2 - Ref:

3 - Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale

* - Calme Forte:(Oats, Camille, Hops, blend of Salts) & Kava Kava - herbals are not clinically proven by the FDA (US), however supported by the Commission E (Germany)

One thought on “Death Spiral – Identifying & Surviving

  1. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)

    In 1991 Barnard and Teasdale created a multilevel theory of the mind called “Interacting Cognitive Subsystems,” (ICS).
    The ICS model is based on Barnard and Teasdale’s theory that the mind has multiple modes that are responsible for receiving and processing new information cognitively and emotionally. The two main modes of mind include the “doing” mode and “being” mode.
    The “doing” mode is also known as the driven mode. This mode is very goal-oriented and is triggered when the mind develops a discrepancy between how things are versus how the mind wishes things to be.
    The second main mode of mind is the “being” mode. “Being” mode, is not focused on achieving specific goals, instead the emphasis is on “accepting and allowing what is,” without any immediate pressure to change it.
    Barnard and Teasdale’s (1991) theory associates an individual’s vulnerability to depression with the degree to which he/she relies on only one of the modes of mind, inadvertently blocking the other modes.
    The central component of Barnard and Teasdale’s ICS is metacognitive awareness.
    Metacognitive awareness is the ability to experience negative thoughts and feelings as mental events that pass through the mind, rather than as a part of the self.
    Individuals with high metacognitive awareness are able to avoid depression and negative thought patterns more easily during stressful life situations, in comparison to individuals with low metacognitive awareness.
    Metacognitive awareness is regularly reflected through an individual’s ability to decenter.
    Decentering is the ability to perceive thoughts and feelings as both impermanent and objective occurrences in the mind.
    Based on Barnard and Teasdale’s (1991) model, mental health is related to an individual’s ability to disengage from one mode or to easily move among the modes of mind. Therefore, individuals that are able to flexibly move between the modes of mind based on the conditions in the environment are in the most favorable state.
    The ICS model theorizes that the “being” mode is the most likely mode of mind that will lead to lasting emotional changes. Therefore for prevention of relapse in depression, cognitive therapy must promote this mode. This led Teasdale to the creation of MBCT, which promotes the “being” mode.

    This therapy was also created by Zindel Segal and Mark Williams, and was partially based on the mindfulness-based stress reduction program, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Theories behind these mindfulness-based approaches to psychological issues function on the idea that being aware of things in the present, and not focusing on the past or the future, will allow the client to be more apt to deal with current stressors and distressing feelings with a flexible and accepting mindset, rather than avoiding, and, therefore, prolonging them.


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