Depression is a mood disorder, but it never affects a person’s mood alone. Depression is characterized by chronic sadness, low motivation and energy, trouble sleeping and a distinct loss of enjoyment in life. In some instances, depression becomes so severe that a person despairs of life itself and suicide is considered a viable option. But even before that point, depression can lead to serious problems with a person’s physical well-being.
Depression and Heart Disease
Depression is associated with higher cholesterol and heart disease. Depressed people are more apt to smoke and therefore have issues with high blood pressure as well. Heart attacks stemming from depression are not uncommon whether or not the person has ever had heart issues in the past. For those who do suffer a heart attack, being depressed will raise the likelihood of death within a half-year by as much as 20 percent. When a person feels sick at heart, medical research shows that they often become truly heart sick.
Depression and Cancer
Depression is not a direct cause of cancer but it can affect how well a person copes with or recovers from the dread disease. While many people with chronic illness may feel initially depressed at hearing such a diagnosis, not all continue to be depressed. When depression persists, many believe that it suppresses the immune system, making it harder for patients to battle many illnesses, including cancer.
Depression and Memory
Everyone experiences a certain amount of memory loss with age. However, researchers say that fMRI studies have shown that the brains of elderly people with depression can look quite different compared to the brains of older people who are not depressed. Deterioration in memory areas of the brain appears more extensive in the brains of those seniors who are depressed. Sadly, when an older person is depressed, they are also more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s too.
Depression and Diabetes
Diabetes is another serious illness linked to depression. Because depression saps a person’s energy and their desire to get up and be active, it can place a person at greater risk for developing diabetes. A sedentary life combined with poor food choices often produces overweight and all three of these things (bad diet, lack of exercise, overweight) are risk factors for the disease. When depression is present, a person will often struggle to maintain friendships and positive family relationships. Professional work or schoolwork may suffer because the person cannot manage to complete tasks or stay focused. At the same time, their depression is very likely to cause or worsen physical health problems. Thus, depression is a condition which affects a person not only emotionally, but socially and physically as well. Depression rarely resolves on its own, so the best thing to do is talk with a doctor or counselor as soon as it is recognized before it can do further damage.