Depression and illness: Chicken or egg?
It's not uncommon for a physical illness to trigger depression. Up to half of heart attack survivors and those with cancer report feeling blue, and many are diagnosed with depression. Many people who have diabetes, Parkinson's, or other chronic conditions become depressed.
Depression is more than a passing bout of sadness or feeling down. It can leave you feeling continuously burdened and can sap the joy out of once-pleasurable activities.
It works in the other direction, too. Depression can affect the course of a physical disease. Take heart disease — depression has been linked with slower recovery from a heart attack and an increased risk for future heart trouble.
Here's another chicken-or-egg example. Two common thyroid disorders are well known to affect mood. If the thyroid makes too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), manic symptoms can result. If the gland makes too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism), exhaustion and depression can appear. Treating thyroid disease can often relieve the mood problems.
The list doesn't stop there. Other medical conditions associated with mood disorders include certain neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's), other hormonal imbalances, and some nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin B12.
The take-home message is that if you have depression, or think you might, a thorough physical exam and careful medical history could help pinpoint a physical source of the problem — and the most appropriate treatment.
At Wellbeing Center, find out how effective treatment can lighten your mood, strengthen your connections with loved ones, allow you to find satisfaction in interests and hobbies, and make you feel more like yourself again.
For more on diagnosing and finding the right treatment on the different types of depression, visit us for a Mind-body, integrative approach.