Whether you have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, HIV/AIDS or autoimmune diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis, having a chronic disease can feel like life has dealt you a rather bad hand. How are you supposed to live your life to the fullest when you feel weak, fatigued and diseased for a large part of the time?
These are thoughts that come up in the mind of every single person who lives with a chronic illness. These diseases last all your life and cannot be cured. The most you can do is manage the symptoms and live as long and well as you can. Not surprisingly, depression can seep in if you have been dealing or diagnosed with a chronic disease.
According to a study published in The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders in 2013, the life span of depressed patients is 25 to 30 years shorter than that of the general population – which is quite high for a problem that can be diagnosed and properly treated if primary care facilities are provided. Add the likelihood of having depression when you have a chronic disease to this mix, and primary care becomes even more important.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, one-third of individuals living with a serious medical condition also have symptoms of depression. Having a chronic illness can also trigger something called clinically significant depression. The following are some common symptoms of this depression:
Diagnosing depression in chronic disease patients can be very difficult because a lot of symptoms overlap for both, like fatigue, poor appetite, reduced concentration and lack of sleep. Patients and even their family members might overlook the specific symptoms of depression and engage more with the chronic illness itself, assuming that the depressive thoughts are just a byproduct of the other disease. This is clearly not the way to go.
If you have a chronic illness, you should be aware of symptoms of depression and make sure that you are treated for both diseases at the same time. This is because treating one and not the other can lead to a vicious cycle. For example, if you have diabetes, have gained weight and are depressed, you will not have the motivation to regulate your diet, lose weight and treat diabetes properly.
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), there are some chronic illnesses which make their patients more prone to depression:
If you are suffering from any of these diseases, you should have a chat with your primary healthcare provider about the risk of depression, and also involve family and friends in the process.
Early diagnosis and treatment of depression doesn’t just reduce the signs of depression. The Cleveland Clinic says that patients with a chronic illness can observe major improvements in their overall medical conditions if they get their depression treated. It can also improve their quality of life and make it easier for them to follow the recommended treatment plan for the chronic illness.
You can use the following tips to deal with depression:
For more information, read our articles on Depression: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.
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Updated Date: Feb 27, 2020 18:41:19 IST