Chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes may make you more likely to have or develop a mental health condition.
It is common to feel sad or discouraged after having a heart attack, receiving a cancer diagnosis, or when trying to manage a chronic condition such as pain.
You may be facing new limits on what you can do, and may feel stressed or concerned about treatment outcomes and the future. It may be hard to adapt to a new reality and to cope with the changes and ongoing treatment that come with the diagnosis.
Favourite activities, such as hiking or gardening, may be harder to do.
Temporary feelings of sadness are expected, but if these and other symptoms last longer than a couple of weeks, you may have depression.
What is Depression?
Depression affects your ability to carry on with daily life and to enjoy family, friends, work, and leisure. The health effects of depression go beyond mood: depression is a serious medical illness with many symptoms, including physical ones. Some symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood;
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic;
- Feeling irritable, easily frustrated‚ or restless;
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless;
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities;
- Decreased energy, fatigue, or feeling “slowed down”;
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions;
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping;
- Changes in appetite or weight;
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not ease even with treatment;
- Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide,
Remember: Depression is treatable—even if you have another medical illness or condition.
For more information, visit the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website to learn more about depression
Chronic Illness Increases the Risk of Depression
People with other chronic medical conditions are at higher risk of depression.
The same factors that increase the risk of depression in otherwise healthy people also raise the risk in people with other medical illnesses, particularly if those illnesses are chronic (long-lasting or persistent). These risk factors include a personal or family history of depression or family members who have died by suicide.
However, some risk factors for depression are directly related to having another illness. For example, conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and stroke cause changes in the brain. In some cases, these changes may have a direct role in depression. Illness-related anxiety and stress also can trigger symptoms of depression.
Depression is common among people who have chronic illnesses such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease;
- Autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis;
- Coronary heart disease;
- Multiple sclerosis;
- Parkinson’s disease;
Some people may experience symptoms of depression after being diagnosed with a medical illness. Those symptoms may decrease as they adjust to or treat the other condition. Certain medications used to treat the illness also can trigger depression.
If you or a loved one have a chronic illness and suspect that depression may also be an issue, I welcome you to make an appointment with me.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.