The human body is intricately interconnected. Our physical bodies can influence our mental health, and vice versa. One example of this symbiotic relationship is depression. Physical ailments can often have mental repercussions, including depression. Below is a list of common physical problems that have a proven correlation with depression.
Heart Disease. A recent study has shown that one out of every five people who suffer a heart attack will become depressed. It is understandable how such a traumatic event in your life could contribute to a state of depression. To that point, a link between depression and heart disease was found in a study at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, which reported that depressed people were four times more likely to have a heart attack than people who were not depressed.
What is not known is why. Speculation includes a weakened immune system due to the stress hormones secreted during bouts of depression. Depressed people may be neglecting themselves or not taking their medications properly. Whichever the case, you will want to note whether or not you, or a family member, has a history of heart disease. Often the reduction of blood ﬂow and circulation that occurs with heart disease can cause a loss of physical vitality, which you may be interpreting as depression.
Anemia. This condition is also known as iron-poor blood. Symptoms of anemia, similar to depression, include fatigue, weakness, and lethargy. It is difficult to experience mental alertness, optimism, or energy when your body is physically run-down. If you are a woman experiencing depression, be aware that women have a much higher incidence of anemia. This could be a cause of your general lack of vitality.
Apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where the air passages in the throat close off during sleep. It is more common in those who are overweight and older, as the muscles in the throat lose rigidity and become limp upon relaxation. The throat basically closes in on itself, depriving the body of oxygen. The body will fight back by causing the person to gasp to reopen the air passages. Those who suffer from sleep apnea fluctuate between gasping and suffocating. This pattern severely strains the body and makes getting a good night’s sleep impossible. The resulting symptoms are fatigue, mental confusion, and lethargy—all associated with a state of depression. Though this is a serious condition, it can be treated successfully through surgical and nonsurgical methods.
Diabetes. Diabetes is the body’s inability to regulate its own blood sugar. This condition is treated with insulin through ingestion (pill), absorption (patch), or injection (shot). While insulin delivery systems continue to be reﬁned to mimic the body’s own natural levels, they are still far from perfect. The constant up-and-down stress of elevated versus low blood sugar levels can compromise the body’s ability to regulate important nutrient absorption and hormonal levels, which provide protection from depressive mood swings. It should be noted that prolonged periods of hypoglycemia can lead to adult-onset diabetes.
Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is also known as “the winter blues.” This depressive cycle is tied to the body’s secretion pattern of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the body’s biological clock and coordinates the sleep-wake cycle, including temperature control. Melatonin is produced in the dark and is in the greatest production during the winter months. Those who suffer from SAD experience moderate to intense periods of depression during the winter. As you observe patterns in your depression, be aware of the time of day and the season. Those who suffer from SAD will ﬁnd that their depression is deﬁnitely linked to a lack of sunlight and the long, dark days of winter.
Heredity. Simply put, depression appears to run in families. While no deﬁnitive study pinpoints a depression gene, there is research that suggests a family link. Half of the manic-depressives have at least one parent also with the disorder, and a study of twins showed that identical twins were twice as likely to share depression as paternal twins. You need to educate yourself on your family health background; a worthwhile endeavor in any case. Be aware especially of parents or siblings who have experienced depression. Remember that this depression may be undiagnosed. Talk to relatives if immediate family members are no longer alive.
Dehydration. Most people don’t drink enough water. When the body is dehydrated, one of its main detoxiﬁcation methods is compromised. If toxic substances are not ﬂushed out of the system, they remain in the body and lead to a toxic buildup. In addition, water is the body’s main lubricant for its important processes. A lack of water impairs the body’s ability to perform vital functions. Dehydration can cause fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and mental dullness.
If someone you know is suffering from depression, it’s possible that one or more of these issues are also involved. It’s important to seek professional guidance when diagnosing and treating depression. For more information about depression treatment, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today. The Center • A Place of HOPE’s Depression Treatment Program was recently ranked as the #1 treatment facility in the country for depression, and our team is standing by to help you and your loved ones.