In the recent years, studies have proved that depression is mental disorder that increases the risk of more complex health problems (University of Granada, 2016). Most people thought that depression only causes mental issues however, the truth is it is linked to physical health problems as well. This shows that it is important to get treatment as soon as one is diagnosed with depression. It is not a wonder that most people living with depression have at one time or the other experienced some physical problems. These physical problems may range from the heart to the immune system (University of Granada, 2016). This essay will identify and discuss the various physical health problems that have are linked to depression; this may include conditions such as Heart Disease, Stroke, Dementia, Parkinson disease, Obesity and many others.
Depression increases the risk of stroke, moreover, some of the people who recovered successfully from it developed stroke later. This proves that the risk of stroke exists even after recovering from this serious condition. Antidepressants may trigger stroke in some individuals (Walton 2015). Depressive symptoms should be treated as early as possible, before any dangerous effects associated with stroke accumulate. The reason why depression increases the risk of developing stroke is because its victims engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking. Depression might be involved in causing cumulative mutilation to the vasculature of the brain thus heightening the risk of stroke (Sarbadhikari, 2005). According to Denise (2009), studies conducted on more than 300,000 people in a follow up period ranging from 2-29 years showed that there were around 8,478 cases of stroke. In fact, depressed people proved to be around 45% more likely to develop stroke than the healthy people (Walton, 2015). In addition, the studies showed that they were at a 55% more risk of dying from any type of stroke. What’s more, depression has also been associated with causing heart disease in a large percentage of individuals.
Scholars have found that there is a high risk of people with depression to suffer from cardiovascular diseases. Statistics have shown that the risk ranges from 5% to 40% depending on the level of depression severity (Walton, 2015). It is therefore right to state that depressive symptoms increase the chances of an individual developing heart failure. People that show mild depressive symptoms are 5% more likely to suffer from heart failure while those with moderate or severe depressive symptoms have a 40% increased risk (University of Granada, 2016). These findings can be supported by the fact that depressed people have unhealthy lifestyles; they are more likely to engage in smoking and unhealthy feeding habits that might cause obesity. Such unhealthy habits accelerate the chances of developing heart failure. Most importantly is that depression triggers the release of stress hormones that are responsible for inducing inflammation and in turn accelerating heart disease (Preidt, 2014). An increase in inflammatory markers and stress hormones will most probably lead to plaque accumulation and cause damage to the arteries. Other than the risk of heart disease, it is necessary to treat depression before it leads to Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
In the past decade, depression has been one of the major risk factors for Dementia. Some of the depressive symptoms may share a common cause with Alzheimer’s disease. Amazingly, some of the symptoms may represent or hint an early stage of Dementia. The study on how depression develops over a period of time has provided new insights on how it is associated with dementia (Sarbadhikari, 2005). The findings of the study show that fluctuating symptoms of depression are unlikely to affect Dementia. However, worsening depressive symptoms especially for people with the age of 55 years and above may be an early sign of Dementia. A good example that shows the relationship between Dementia and depression is a study that involved people who were in their early and late 70s. The study involved around 1700 people who had no mental problems. During this study the participants were screened for depressive symptoms annually. From the results, half of the people had developed mild memory problems which are one of the precursors to Dementia (Walton, 2015). In fact, around 18% were diagnosed with dementia. Out of the 680 people that died, over 90 percent had tangles and plaques buildup in their brain. This can be explained by the fact that depression causes the brain to degenerate thus putting the organ at risk for Dementia. The results and findings of this study prove that depression among the elderly is an early symptom of burgeoning Dementia (Sarbadhikari, 2005). If depression is allowed to worsen, there is a high likelihood of becoming obese and overweight.
Obesity has been closely interlinked with depression after new research indicating that people who are depressed as more likely to develop obesity. In addition, People suffering from obesity are more likely to develop depression due to poor health and feeling dissatisfied with their appearance. Studies reveal that this occurrence mostly happens to women with a high socio-economic status (Weil, 2011). Depressed people undergo a lot of significant changes in the bodies; they experience changes in their immune system and hormonal balance. A number of studies suggest that a significant percentage of people use food as a mechanism of coping with trauma, stress and anxiety. The hormonal imbalance caused by depressive symptoms may be responsible for over-feeding among depressed people. Studies indicate that obesity is brought about by unhealthy lifestyles (Weil, 2011). Basing on the fact that people experiencing depression are more likely to engage in unhealthy habits as a way of coping with stress, then gaining weight is inevitable. Another issue is that most people who have depressive symptoms are not able to take good care of themselves. In fact, most of them rarely adhere to fitness regiments, smoke cigarettes, eat junk food and have negative thoughts. Fortunately, Obesity and depression can be solved by regular exercise and treatment aimed at reducing stress. In addition, it has been revealed that some of the antidepressants have been linked to causing weight gain (Walton, 2015). Concrete evidence on why antidepressants cause weight gain has not yet been submitted. However, there is a high likelihood that some trigger food cravings especially those rich in carbohydrates. Some of the antidepressants that are less likely to cause weight gain are Serzone and Effexor. Depressed people are therefore recommended to use medication that will not affect their weight. Studies have revealed depression is one of the causes of diabetes complications which lead to early death.
Over the past two decades, research has continued to show the relationship that exists between diabetes and depression. For starters, people who have depression are more prone to developing diabetes; if an individual develops depression and diabetes, it becomes so difficult to adhere to treatment plans and manage blood glucose levels (Barron, 2008). Studies suggest that having diabetes increases the risk of developing depression. This is attributed by the fact that managing this condition as well as putting up with hormonal and biological imbalance is difficult and can trigger depressive symptoms. Victims dislike the health regimen recommended by their doctors ranging from dietary constraints, pin prinks to insulin shots. A study conducted out of Johns Hopkins, Baltimore showed that people with depression have a 42% heightened risk of developing Diabetes type 2. During the study, it was also noted that the level of depression matters; people with severe depressive symptoms are at a greater risk of developing diabetes type 2 (Barron, 2008). There has been an alarming increase in the number of people suffering from diabetes and depression. Doctors claim that, it is easier to treat depressive symptoms before diabetes sets in. once a depressed patient develops diabetes, then it becomes very difficult to control. It is important to note that depressive sickness might fail to cause any physical harm but as a person progresses to advanced stages of diabetes, the pancreas and other organs will have already sustained damage (Richards & O’Hara, 2014). This is because some of the organs get easily compromised by high sugar and insulin levels. Stress is normal in life; people experience it when they are under emotional distress. While mild stress is nothing to worry about, intense depression makes it difficult for individuals to prevent and fight cancer.
It is evident that depression has a profound factor on how the body’s immune system functions to fight cancer. It might be difficult to present evidence on how depression really because cancer but sure thing is depression changes the functioning of the immune system thus exposing the body to the risk of cancer (Richards & O’Hara, 2014). The White blood cells are always bumping into cancer cells and the always fight cancers as foreign bodies. Unfortunately, if the immune system becomes too weak maybe as a result of depression, then the white blood cells cannot offer effective surveillance of cancers. Some studies suggest that chronic depression can offer favorable conditions for cancer to grow and spread to more organs. Research also indicates that stress hormones are likely to inhibit anaikis, a process that kills damages and diseased cells and prevents them from other parts of the body. Depression can alter some growth factors to increase blood supply in the body in turn favoring the fast growth of cancer tumors (Heid, 2014). Studies also show that old people who have lived with depression for more than six years are at a high risk of developing cancers. The most common types of cancer that a depressed patient can develop is cancer of the oesophagus, bowel, pancreas, leukemia and prostrate Research has also shown that people with cancer are more likely to develop depressive symptoms even when they are unaware of the disease (Heid, 2014). This may be triggered by the changes that happen in the body as a result of cancer. There are various ways to prevent and fight depression. For instance, one should; find health ways to fight their stress, talk to a professional, exercise regularly and get adequate sleep. If depressed people adhere to this, it will be possible to control depression and related health problems once and for all.
In summation, it is clear that the essay has clearly described that depression is not merely a mental problem. Depression is a serious health condition that goes ahead to affect the entire body by favoring the development of other complex health problems. The essay has put across the various health problems that are linked to depression. Some of the diseases include; Heart failure, Cancer, Stroke, Dementia, Diabetes and Obesity. Treating early symptom of depression is the only guaranteed way of controlling and eradicating the risk of other health problems.
Barron J. (2008) Depression Causes Diabetes- Diabetes Cause Depression. Retrieved on 1st March 1, 2017 from https://jonbarron.org/article/depression-causes-diabetes—diabetes-causes-depression
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In Richards, C. S., & In O’Hara, M. W. (2014). The Oxford handbook of depression and comorbidity.
Preidt R. (2014) Depression May Be Linked to Heart Failure. Retrieved on 1st March, 2017 from http://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20140404/depression-may-be-linked-to-heart-failure
Sarbadhikari, S. N. (2005). Depression and dementia: Progress in brain research, clinical applications, and future trends. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
University of Granada. (2016, March 1). Depression is more than a mental disorder: it affects the whole organism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160301075102.htm
Walton A. (2015) Depression Raises Risk Of Serious Health Problems: More Reason To Get Treated Now. Retrieved on 1st March 1, 2017 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/05/23/depression-ups-the-risk-of-many-health-problems-more-reasons-to-get-treated-now/#2d4ab5be4e88.
Weil A. (2011) Why do Antidepressants cause weight gain? Retrieved on 1st March 1, 2017 from https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/mental-health/why-do-antidepressants-cause-weight-gain/.