Depression is a psychiatric disorder marked by feelings of inadequacy, despondency and hopelessness. While clinically depressed patients are generally known to suffer from overwhelmingly pessimistic mental states, they also experience physical symptoms such as general sluggishness, constipation and sexual dysfunction. This article describes medical conditions associated with depression.
Medical Conditions Associated with Depression
Since depression is related to chemical imbalances of serotonin and norepinephrine, some symptoms have physical causes. For example, sexual dysfunction commonly associated with depression is likely the result of imbalanced hormones rather than an aversion to intercourse.
Depression is closely related to other medical conditions, including:
- Eating disorders
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a condition marked by severe bloating, cramping and general fatigue before menstruation
- Sleep disorders, both insomnia and hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
Although depression can cause some of these medical conditions, it can also be a result of others. Depression may actually be both a cause and a symptom of certain conditions.
For example, depressed individuals tend to eat more and exercise less than normal. Left untreated, depression can cause weight gain and sometimes obesity. Similarly, those who are already obese are likely to feel anxious and powerless to change their condition, leading to depression.
Heart Disease and Depression
Although some experts have been reluctant to explore the connections between mental and physical states, recent research has unearthed some surprising statistics about the relationship between depression and heart disease. The VA Medical Center in San Francisco (2009) states that 50 percent of all heart disease patients are likely to be depressed at some point in life.
Researchers are working to establish the connection between depression and heart disease. Heart patients should seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis and immediate treatment. Early treatment is the best method of preventing either condition from becoming worse.
Depression Guide. (2007). Disorders and conditions related to depression. Retrieved October 17, 2007, from http://www.depression-guide.com/disorders.htm.
National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Depression and sleep. Retrieved June 23, 2010, from http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/depression-and-sleep.
The Free Library. (2009). Lack of exercise put depressed heart patients at greater risk. Retrieved June 23, 2010, from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Lack of exercise put depressed heart patients at greater risk-a0199287311.