Physical Illness and Depression

Physical illness can often lead to depression. This could be caused by chemical changes in the brain. Also, the stress involved in living with a disease often leads to depression. Some symptoms of depression are:

  • Constant sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Loss of interest in things formerly enjoyed
  • Poor appetite
  • Loss or gain of weight

Anti-depressant medication often works well for people who suffer from chronic conditions and who also become depressed. These medications work by lifting the mood and reducing anxiety. Better moods and reduced levels of stress and anxiety promote better quality sleep at night, thus improving overall well-being. Chronic illnesses involving dementia may cause behavioural problems, and patients may have difficulty describing symptoms. Careful medical evaluation and proper treatment should be sought. Anti-depressants may help in many cases. Many medical conditions can cause depression, including:

  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic infections
  • Chronic pain conditions
  • Arthritis
  • Schizophrenia

How can I help someone who has a physical illness and is suffering from depression?

Practical and emotional support from family, friends and health care workers is essential. Counselling, medication and plenty of social activities can do a lot to help a depressed person feel better. Support groups for specific illnesses are good sources of information.

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