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From Cary and Huntley, IL-Depression and Sickness: Which is the Chicken?  Which is the Egg?

 

Certain medical problems are linked to mood disturbances. Medical illnesses — and drug side effects — may be behind nearly 10% to 15% of all cases of depressive disorders When symptoms strike, therapists usually probe what’s going on mentally and emotionally first. But it’s also important to check what’s going on physiologically.

Many people who have diabetes and other chronic conditions become depressed. It’s not uncommon for a physical illness to trigger depressed moods. Up to half of heart attack survivors and those with cancer report feeling blue, and many are diagnosed with depression and related symptoms.

Other medical conditions associated with mood disorders include neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s), hormonal imbalances, and some nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin B12.

Here’s a chicken-or-egg example: Depression can affect the course of a physical disease. Take heart disease — depression has been linked with slower recovery from a heart attack and an increased risk for future heart trouble.

Here’s another chicken-or-egg example. If the thyroid gland makes too little of its hormone (hypothyroidism), exhaustion and depression sometimes appear. Treating thyroid disease can often relieve the mood problems.

In fact, two common thyroid disorders are well known to affect mood. If the thyroid makes too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), manic symptoms can result, too little and depression results..

The bottom lineis that if you have depressive symptoms or think you might, a thorough physical exam and careful medical history could help pinpoint a physical source of the problem.

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