In 2017, over 17 million U.S. adults said they experienced a major depressive episode within the past year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That means millions of Americans are struggling with overwhelming feelings of guilt, hopelessness, and apathy.
It’s important to remember that, although depression is a mental illness, the conditioncan have a lasting effect on more than just a person’s mood. People with depression also deal with other symptoms, such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Decreased libido
- Insomnia or oversleeping
- Lack of concentration
- Weight gain or loss
In addition, people suffering from depression may also experience unexplainable pains throughout the body. Everything from headaches to joint pain can occur without the presence of typical bodily injuries. These unexplained painful physical symptoms afflict about two-thirds of people with depression.
Depression often coexists with other long-term physical afflictions. For example, people who are battling cancer, diabetes, arthritis, AIDS, or recovering from a heart attack or stroke might also find themselves grappling with depression or anxiety. Depression can also hinder the immune system’s ability to battle illnesses and infections, furthering complicating physical health issues.
Heart disease is another prominent example of a condition that can coexist with depression. Depression can worsen heart disease, and a heart disease diagnosis can worsen depression.
However, that doesn’t mean one condition is always the direct cause of the other. Similar lifestyle choices and environmental factors might be behind the scenes of both conditions. For example, drug or alcohol abuse, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle can be damaging to your arteries as well as your mental health.
Fortunately, this also means that some strategies to cope with depression will also help a person manage coexisting conditions. Maintaining a regular exercise routine is one example of a habit that could reduce the effects of both depression and heart disease. Consuming a balanced diet is another way to tackle multiple conditions at once; nutritional changes can help manage conditions including depression, diabetes, and heart disease. Similarly, seeking help for alcohol addiction will steer a person away from both physical and mental illnesses. Denver individual counseling services offer another possible way to manage the effects of depression. Rather than rely on cookie-cutter approaches, a counselor can help a person find solutions that work for their specific circumstances. Counseling can even benefit individuals who are dealing with physical effects, such as unexplained pain or insomnia.