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Chronic illnesses can pave way for depression

01-04 | DTC Team

Chronic illnesses can pave way for depression

Individuals diagnosed with chronic illnesses can also experience poor mental health brought on by their physical condition. It is natural to feel disheartened while coping with chronic pain or after a heart attack or cancer diagnosis. Such individuals may find it difficult to pursue their hobbies or other tasks that they could once easily perform. They can also experience anxiety due to constantly thinking about the outcome of their treatment and their future.

It is natural to experience brief bouts of sadness in such a situation. However, if such feelings, along with physical symptoms, persist for more than a couple of weeks, then the individual may be in the process of developing depression.

Symptoms of depression

Depression can affect an individual’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks and the capacity to enjoy and perform at work. Depression is a real mental disorder and its effects on health is not limited to mood swings. Some of the symptoms of depression are:

  • sadness, irritability and anxiousness
  • inability to sleep, prolonged hours of sleep or waking up too early
  • problems with concentration, recalling memories and making decisions
  • loss of interest in hobbies and other activities that were once fun
  • onset of fatigue, lowered energy reserves and languidness
  • feeling of emptiness, hopelessness, guilt and worthlessness
  • thoughts revolving around death
  • overeating or having no appetite, sometimes accompanied by rapid fluctuation in body weight
  • pain, headaches, cramps or stomach problems without any indication of a physical cause

Individuals with depression more prone to develop other illnesses

The list of factors that increase the risk of depression in individuals with chronic illnesses is usually longer than the list of individuals without any chronic illness. Sometimes, the risk factors are directly linked to another illness which can play a significant role in depression. Additionally, chronic medical condition-related anxiety and stress can also aggravate symptoms of depression. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), it is estimated that up to one-third of individuals with a serious medical condition encounter symptoms of depression.

Depression is common among individuals with chronic medical conditions like:

  • coronary heart disease
  • diabetes
  • cancer
  • epilepsy
  • multiple sclerosis
  • stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • HIV/AIDS
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease

Similarly, individuals with depression are at a greater risk of developing other physical illnesses. Such individuals have high probability of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. Some researchers also speculate that depression can increase the risk for osteoporosis, though the reasons are not fully understood. Scientists have discovered that depression can change various bodily functions that can affect physical health. Some of these functions are:

  • increased inflammation
  • imbalance in level of stress hormones
  • metabolic changes that lead to diabetes
  • fluctuations in heart rates and blood circulation

Another factor that can explain the prevalence of depression among people is that they may have less access to proper medical care. Such individuals may have a difficult time in taking care of their health, acquiring proper medication, eating right and exercising.

Path to recovery

Depression can be triggered by a recent medical diagnosis, but it is treatable. In some cases, certain medications for other illnesses can also trigger depression and it can continue to exist even if the physical health has improved.

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, do not hesitate to seek help. Evidenced-based treatment is available for depression that can help even if the patient has another medical illness or condition. Contact the Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado to connect to the best depression treatment centers in Colorado. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-427-5668 or chat online with our treatment advisors to locate the best depression treatment in Colorado.


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