Neighbors of Depression

Depression and Other Illnesses

Possible Neighbors of Depression

Depression and Heart Disease – are common companions, and each can make the other worse, without treatment. Since the combination of depression and heart disease is often associated with increased sickness and death, having the diagnosis of depression made early in persons with heart disease is very important.

Although anyone can get depression, people with heart disease are more likely to get it than healthy people. In addition, people who have a heart attack plus depression are more likely to die than people who don’t develop depression. Developing depression with heart disease may make it harder for a person to take his/her medications and carry out the other treatments for heart disease, including exercise.

Depression and Stroke – People who have a stroke also have a greater risk of developing depression. It is estimated that 10% to 27% of stroke patients depressiondevelop major depression. In addition, more persons who have a stroke develop some symptoms of depression within 2 months after having a stroke.

There may be psychological and physical factors associated with the development of post-stroke depression (PSD). Therefore, the most important part of early diagnosis after stroke is awareness that it is a possibility. That’s because early and effective treatment of depression often results in substantial improvement of the stroke symptoms.

Depression and HIV/AIDS – Although as many as 1 in 3 persons with HIV may have depression, their warning signs of depression are often misunderstood. People with HIV, their families and friends, and even some of their doctors may assume that depression is a normal reaction to being diagnosed with HIV. That is not true. Therefore, instead of depression with HIV/AIDS being dismissed as “normal”, it should be treated aggressively.

To treat HIV related depression effectively, the therapist needs to be flexible, such as regarding home or hospital visits. Also, the affected person and the therapist must both be prepared to discuss physical decline, approaching and planning for death, and circumstances of dying.

Depression and Diabetes – Depression is more common in people with diabetes than it is in the general population. Depression is also associated with poorer blood glucose management, an increased risk of diabetes complications, and therefore, a decreased quality of life. Therefore, control of diabetes in people who have both conditions can contribute greatly to control of depression.

Treating depression with psychotherapy (“talk therapy”), medication (antidepressant therapy) or a combination of both can improve a person’s health and ability to manage his or her diabetes. Likewise, effective treatment of diabetes in persons who have both conditions tends to make control of depression more effective. Treatment of depression in a person with diabetes should be managed by a mental health professional – like a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker.

Post-partum (After Childbirth) Depression – A new mother can have sudden mood swings, sadness, crying spells, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, and feeling irritable, restless, anxious and lonely. This is sometimes called the “baby blues”. Usually, symptoms are not severe, and they go away within a few days to a week. Therefore, treatment is usually not needed.

Believe it or not, post-partum depression can develop anytime during the first year after childbirth. Postpartum depression that lasts more than 2 weeks needs to be treated by a doctor. Counseling, support groups, and medicines can also help. Any of the above symptoms that last more than 2 weeks after childbirth are signs of depression.

Bipolar Disorder(s) – Are closely related to, but different from depression. Together, they are called mood disorders. The difference in the two is that usually a person with bipolar disorder has had at least one manic episode. A manic episode is a condition of more than one week in which a person has an abnormally elevated, restless, talkative or irritable mood which is not related to substance abuse or a medical illness. It includes a number of disturbances in behavior and thinking that result in life adjustment problems.

Adherence to therapy is key to controlling bipolar disorders, since there is no known cure to date. Oral lithium Therapy is considered the most effective long-term treatment.

Depression and Obesity – People who are obesity have an increased risk of developing multiple diseases including heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and arthritis. Therefore, obese persons are considered more likely to have poor health, which may contribute to their having depression. In addition, obese people tend to be less active, and therefore less fit. Fitness is associated with better physical and mental health, and improved self image.

The problems associated with trying to reverse overweight are often associated with frustration and depression. Also, efforts to diet may be associated with depression. In addition, society’s attitude toward obese people (the stigma associated with obesity) can contribute to the development of Depression and Chronic Illnessdepression.

Depression and Thyroid Illness – Depression may be the first sign of thyroid disease. The nervousness, anxiety, and hyperactivity of hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) often interferes with a person’s ability to function normally. Both anxiety and depression can be severe in some individuals with hyperthyroidism. However, they often improve when the depression is recognized and treated.

Depression is more often associated with hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) than hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue (tiredness) and mental dullness, which often leads to depression. In fact, hypothyroidism can be so severe that a physician may mistakenly treat the patient first for depression without testing for underlying hypothyroidism. Since most hypothyroidism begins after age fifty, the symptoms are often thought to be due to aging, menopause and/or depression. Oral lithium therapy is very effective for treating depression and bipolar disorder in many affected people.

Depression and Parkinson’s Disease – People with depression and Parkinson’s disease have higher rates of anxiety and sadness than the general population. Parkinson’s Disease (Parkinson’s) is a serious and progressive medical condition that affects a person’s ability to function in daily life. The primary symptoms are tremor or trembling in the hands, arms, legs, and face; stiffness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk; slow bodily movements; and postural instability, or impaired balance and coordination.

When depression is associated with Parkinson’s disease, the depression may be triggered by stress, life difficulties, environmental factors, and side effects of medications. Treatment of the depression is important because in addition to improving the depression, it may increase the effectiveness of the Parkinson’s therapy.


Depression can occur with many serious conditions. With each of the above conditions, when it is combined with depression, treatment of the depression tends to make treatment of the other condition more effective. Likewise, effective treatment of each of the neighbor conditions tends to make effective treatment of the depression better.

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