Find a Therapist
Share this Blog
Catastrophizing - 5 Steps to Calming Calamity
Catastrophizing - 5 Steps to Calming Calamity (part 2)Suggestions to help limit catastrophizing and to alleviate self-destruc...
Your Choices and Meditation
You go through life automatically, not feeling quite right but not knowing why. You go to a job you hate, come home, make din...
Healing Grief: Help For Grief Online
Grief is an overwhelmingly painful experience when you've lost someone you love through separation or death. The bond of love...
Six Key Factors To Assess in Yourself and Others
Assess Six Factors in Others and Yourself Whether you are learning about a prospective mate, deciding on a new business part...
5 Tips For Parenting Adolescents: Part 5
By Matt W. Sandford, LMHC In part four of the series, we discussed ways to balance between short and long term goals in our ...
- August 2011
- September 2011
- October 2011
- November 2011
- December 2011
- January 2012
- February 2012
- March 2012
- April 2012
- May 2012
- June 2012
- July 2012
- August 2012
- September 2012
- October 2012
- November 2012
- December 2012
- January 2013
- February 2013
- March 2013
- April 2013
- May 2013
- June 2013
- July 2013
- August 2013
- September 2013
- October 2013
- November 2013
- December 2013
- January 2014
- February 2014
- March 2014
- April 2014
- May 2014
- June 2014
- July 2014
- August 2014
How Medical Conditions Affect Depression
I often have people ask me if medical m conditions can effect mental health. Certain medical problems are linked to lasting, significant mood disturbances - either the sadness or loss of pleasure typical of depression or the elation or hyperirritability seen in mania. In fact, medical illnesses or medications may be at the root of up to 10% to 15% of all depressions.
Among the best-known culprits are two thyroid hormone imbalances. An excess of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can trigger manic symptoms. Hyperthyroidism occurs in about two and a half million Americans. Hypothyroidism, a condition in which your body produces too little thyroid hormone, often leads to exhaustion and depression. This imbalance affects more than nine million Americans.
Heart disease has also been linked to depression, with up to half of heart attack survivors reporting feeling blue and many having significant depression. Depression can spell trouble for heart patients: It's been linked with slower recovery, future cardiovascular trouble, and a higher risk of dying within about six months. Although doctors have hesitated to give heart patients older depression medications called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) because of their impact on heart rhythms, newer drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) seem safe for people with heart conditions.
The following medical conditions have also been associated with mood disorders:
- degenerative neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Huntington's disease
- some nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin B12
- other endocrine disorders, such as problems with the parathyroid or adrenal glands that cause them to produce too little or too much of particular hormones
- certain immune system diseases, such as lupus
- some viruses and other infections, such as mononucleosis, hepatitis, and HIV
- erectile dysfunction in men
When considering the connection between health problems and depression, an important question to address is which came first, the medical condition or the mood changes. A psychotherapist can often help to sort this out. There is no doubt that the stress of having certain illnesses can trigger depression. In other cases, depression precedes the medical illness and may even contribute to it. To find out whether the mood changes occurred on their own or as a result of the medical illness, a doctor carefully considers a person's medical history and the results of a physical exam.
If depression or mania springs from an underlying medical problem, the mood changes should disappear after the medical condition is treated. If you have hypothyroidism, for example, lethargy and depression often lift once treatment regulates the level of thyroid hormone in your blood. In many cases, however, the depression is an independent problem, which means that in order to be successful, treatment must address depression directly with psychotherapy and counseling.
Fredricks, Randi. (2008) Healing & Wholeness: Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Mental Health. Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse.
© Copyright 2014 by Randi Fredricks, Ph.D., therapist in San Jose, California. All rights reserved.