The Toll Depression Takes On Your Mental and Physical Health

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The Toll Depression Takes On Your Mental and Physical Health

Much more than a momentary case of “the blues” or a gloomy mood you could simply “get over” if you tried hard enough, depression is a severe mood disorder that persists — even as its precipitating trauma, stressors, or difficulties subside. Without treatment, this omnipresent low mood can have far-reaching effects on your thoughts, behaviors, motivation, and vitality. 

Apart from turning routine daily tasks into a major challenge, these effects also increase your chances of developing serious co-occurring mental and physical health concerns. 

At Live Life Wellness Clinic LLC, we know that treating depression isn’t just about easing your symptoms and restoring a better quality of life; it’s also about protecting your long-term health and wellness. Here’s what you should know.  

When major depression takes root

Much more than a passing sense of sadness, despair, loneliness, or disinterest, depression is a severe mood disorder that persists even when stressful events or difficult circumstances have abated. Millions of people in the United States struggle with depression at any given time, and one in six Americans can expect to develop this common mental health problem at some point in their lives.   

Depression affects people of all ages and from all walks of life and usually arises when two or more of the following factors coincide:

  • Genetic predisposition or a close family history of depression 
  • Biological conditions (i.e., hormonal changes, illness, injury)
  • Circumstantial factors (i.e., poverty, racism, pollution, disasters)
  • Psychological strain (i.e., stress, grief, trauma, neglect, abuse) 

Depression can give rise to feelings of powerlessness, indifference, isolation, irritability, anger, worthlessness, and guilt for weeks, months, or years. Given that symptom nature and severity are partly influenced by gender and age, depression often manifests in different ways among women, men, older adults, young children, and adolescents.   

Serious, far-reaching health effects

The longer depression persists, the bigger its potential toll. Ongoing depression can profoundly affect virtually every aspect of your well-being, making you more susceptible to various concurrent health complications. Let’s take a closer look. 

Depression and mental health

Unrelenting feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, and apathy aren’t an end unto themselves; without intervention and relief, they can trigger a cascade of emotional, behavioral, and social problems that further erode your mood regulation and mental health. 

These problems often fit the classic “chicken-or-the-egg” scenario, meaning depression may precede them, or they may occur first and set the stage for depression: 

An anxiety disorder

About one in two people affected by depression also have an anxiety disorder, or an excessive worry or fear that disrupts their life and prevents them from partaking in normal activities. 

A sleep disorder

Sleep problems are a hallmark symptom of depression, but when depression persists, this routine symptom often evolves into a full-blown sleep disorder — usually insomnia.  

About three in four people with depression have either sleep onset insomnia (trouble falling asleep) or sleep maintenance insomnia (difficulty staying asleep); similarly, people who suffer from insomnia are 10 times more likely to develop depression.  

A substance use disorder 

About one in five people (20%) affected by depression and/or anxiety also have a substance use disorder (SUD) involving alcohol, illicit drugs, or prescription medications. Similarly, one in five people with an untreated SUD develop depression, an anxiety disorder, or both.  

Depression and physical health

Depression may be considered a mood disorder, but its effects aren’t just mental, emotional, or behavioral — they also have the potential to be intensely physical. The longer depression goes untreated, the more likely you are to experience one or more of the following:   

  • Insatiable appetite; excessive weight gain
  • Total lack of appetite; rapid weight loss
  • Persistent gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms 
  • Chronic headaches; unexplained body pain
  • Relentlessly low energy; chronic fatigue
  • Absent libido and diminished sexual health

Long-standing depression is also associated with ongoing inflammation, diminished immunity, and an elevated risk of heart disease. And if you’re already living with a chronic condition like heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis, depression may make treatment less effective, aggravate your symptoms, or accelerate your physical decline.       

Evidence-based treatment solutions 

Depression — and its co-occurring mental and physical health problems — tend to worsen without treatment. Fortunately, they almost always improve with the right combination of support, guidance, medical interventions, and evidence-based therapies. 

For many people, depression treatment includes medication to ease mood symptoms, along with behavior-shifting therapy sessions, beneficial lifestyle changes, restorative mind-body practices, and treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions and physical illnesses.

If you’re ready to reclaim your life and your health, we can help. Call or click online today to schedule an appointment with one of our seasoned mental health experts at Live Life Wellness Clinic LLC in Houston, Texas.