Chronic illness and mental health: Recognising and treating depression

Enfermedad crónica y salud mental: Reconocer y tratar la depresión

Chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes can increase the likelihood of developing or developing a mental illness.

It is common to feel sad or discouraged after a heart attack, a cancer diagnosis, or when trying to manage a chronic illness such as pain. You may face new limits to what you can do and feel stressed or worried about treatment outcomes and the future. It can be difficult to adjust to a new reality and to cope with the changes and ongoing treatment that come with a diagnosis. Favourite activities, such as hiking or gardening, may be more difficult to do.

Temporary feelings of sadness are to be expected, but if these and other symptoms last more than a couple of weeks, you may be suffering from depression. Depression affects your ability to get on with everyday life and 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 symptoms. Some symptoms of depression are:

1. Persistently sad, anxious or "empty" moods
2. feeling hopeless or pessimistic
3. Feeling irritable, frustrated or restless.
4. Feeling of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness.
5. Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities.
6. Decreased energy, fatigue or a feeling of "sluggishness".
7. Difficulty in concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
8. Difficulty falling asleep, waking up early or oversleeping.
9. Changes in appetite or weight.
10. Aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems with no clear physical cause that do not improve even with treatment.
11. Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide

People with other chronic illnesses are at increased risk of depression.
The same factors that increase the risk of depression in otherwise healthy people also increase the risk in people with other medical illnesses, especially if those illnesses are chronic (long-term 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 play a direct role in depression. Anxiety and stress related to the disease can also trigger symptoms of depression.

Depression is common among people with chronic illnesses such as:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
  • Cancer
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Stroke

Some people may experience symptoms of depression after being diagnosed with one illness. These symptoms may lessen as they adjust to or treat the other illness. Certain medications used to treat the illness may also trigger depression.

Research suggests that people who have depression and another medical illness tend to have more severe symptoms of both illnesses. They may have more difficulty adjusting to their illness and have higher medical costs than people who do not have depression or another illness. Symptoms of depression may continue even when the person's physical health improves.

A collaborative care approach that includes both mental and physical health care can improve overall health. Research has shown that treating depression and chronic illness together can help people better manage both their depression and their chronic illness.

Clinical trials are research studies that look for new ways to prevent, detect or treat diseases and conditions. Although participation in a clinical trial can be beneficial, participants should be aware that the main goal of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others can be better helped in the future.

We wish you good health,

Tribu Naturals