Depression and Health


It’s a Two Way Street

It is no surprise to most people that being sick can be depressing.  Indeed, illness related pain, limitations, relationship stress, and thoughts about our own mortality can trigger difficult emotions for anyone; but for those who are predisposed to depression, can trigger a full episode of clinical depression.

I have recently come across several articles discussing the other side of the coin as well.  Depression can have a negative impact on your health.  Behaviorally, depressed people tend to take worse care of themselves, but it doesn’t stop there.  There also appear to be internal physical changes that put depressed people at higher risk of health problems.  In my work, I have also seen depression negatively impact people’s perspective on spirituality, their willpower, and their willingness to persevere.

Depression is Often Overlooked in the Course of Treating a Physical Illness

The negative impact of depression on health is a serious concern, and an important reason to make sure that depression does not get overlooked in people’s medical treatment.  Not everyone develops depressive symptoms when they get sick, and not everyone who is depressed will get sick as a result.  But if you suspect that depressive symptoms may be putting you at risk, or complicating your (or a loved one’s) ability to cope with an illness, then you may want to see a counselor for an evaluation.

Here are a few articles to help you further explore this topic:

Depression and Your Health – Johns Hopkins Health Alert

Depression clearly has a harmful effect on physical health, although the biological reasons for the link between body and mind are unclear. Whatever the reasons, over the past 20 years, it has become evident that depression after a heart attack is much more than an “understandable emotional reaction” to a stressful, life-changing event — it is profoundly dangerous, raising a person’s chances of having a second, fatal heart attack.

More recently, researchers have studied the flip side of the equation — the question of whether someone with depression is at increased risk for developing coronary heart disease (CHD) down the line. Indeed, prospective studies show that people who had no CHD but were depressed when the studies began were more likely to develop or die of heart disease. Depression also aggravates chronic illnesses such as… (click here to read entire article)

Depression ‘cuts cancer survival’ – BBC News

Depression can damage a cancer patient’s chances of survival, a review of research suggests. The University of British Columbia team said the finding emphasized the need to screen cancer patients carefully for signs of psychological distress. The study, a review of 26 separate studies including 9,417 patients, features in the journal Cancer. It found death rates were up to… (click here to read entire article)

Depression a Big Factor in Poor Health – WebMD

Depression has a greater impact on overall health than arthritis, diabetes, angina, and asthma, but it all too often goes unrecognized and untreated, a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests.

Based on interviews with almost 250,000 people living in 60 countries, WHO researchers found depression to be a greater predictor of poor health in patients with these chronic conditions than having one or more chronic medical conditions without depression.

People who had arthritis, diabetes, angina, or asthma were more likely to suffer from depression than people without these conditions.

And consistent across different countries and cultures, people with depression plus one or more of the chronic diseases included in the study had the worst overall health scores.

The findings, which appear in the Sept. 8 issue of The Lancet, illustrate the urgency of identifying and treating depression in patients with other chronic health problems and in the population as a whole, the WHO researchers conclude.

“We have to recognize…”  (click here to read entire article)

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.

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