By Alabi Hisau Ayodeji
Depression is one of the most common mental illness. It is technically a mental disorder, but it also affects physical health and wellbeing. Depression is a brain disorder that can lead to great emotional anguish and can change how the brain functions.
It also constitutes physical health problems of the heart or immune system. People suffering from depression feel persistently sad and hopeless. Feeling sad and anxious at times is a normal part of life but when those feelings last for more than two weeks it could be symptoms of depression.
Contrary to popular opinion, depression affects much more than moods. Chronic fatigue, decreased sex drive, decreased appetite, insomnia are a few of the most common physical health problems that can be associated with depression as well as gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and immune system problems.
Some people who are depressed may turn to alcohol or drug, which may increase the instance of recklessness or abusive behavior. Someone with depression may consciously avoid talking about it or try to mask the problem. People experiencing depression may also find themselves preoccupied with the thought of death or hurting themselves.
Some people, as a resultant, effect can suffer from lack of appetite which can lead to gastrointestinal problems like stomach aches, cramps, constipation, malnutrition while some may resort to coping by overeating which can lead to obesity and obesity-related diseases like diabetes.
Depression and stress are closely related. Stress hormones speed heart rate and make blood vessels tighten, putting the body in a prolonged state of emergency. Sadly, over time, this can lead to heart disease.
Recurrence of cardiovascular problems is linked more closely to depression than to other conditions like smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. If left unmanaged, depression increases the risk of dying after heart attack. Research indicates that chronic stress and depression are linked to inflammation and may change the immune system. Therefore such people have a higher tendency to have inflammation. However, it is unclear if depression causes inflammation.
People suffering from depression may also experience insomnia or trouble sleeping. This condition can leave them to feel too exhausted or tired, making it difficult to manage both physical and mental health.
Doctors have linked sleep deprivation to hosts of health problems. Similarly, research has correlated long term sleep deprivation with high blood pressure, diabetes, weight-related issues, etc.
Untreated clinical depression is a very serious problem. It increases insecurity in society since people who are depressed tend to have suicidal tendencies and mental imbalance. It also increases the rate of drug abuse and misuse. It can also render individually disabled in their work-life, family, and social life. Sadly, individuals with depression as well as their families and healthcare professionals, often overlook the physical signs and symptoms. In one case, researchers found out that sleep troubles, fatigue, and worries about health are reliable indicators of depression in older adults but are often times incorrectly dismissed as a natural part of aging.
Fortunately, it is a treatable disease. A doctor may recommend a combined approach using medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. With the right support, a person can manage the physical and mental health effects of depression. The good news is that during the process of treating depression, you can also your overall health.
For example, some diabetes research suggests that some anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy may help improve glycemic control, which is essential in diabetes management. Managing depression with medication, support group or psychotherapy or a combination has been shown to improve quality of life. In as much as the burden of depression has been widely pronounced in the society, with adequate behavioral therapy and professional medical counseling, its rippling effect and implications on the health of such a person can be tackled.