Affecting over one-quarter of all adults in the United States, depression is one of the most common mental health conditions. However, its negative effects aren’t limited to your mental well-being. Left untreated, depression can take its toll on your physical health, too.
Depression takes many forms, and the symptoms suffered may be as individual as you are. Whether described as clinical depression, major depressive disorder, or part of bipolar disorder, all forms of depression feature feelings of sadness and disinterest in life, including the things that usually bring you joy.
At Mindful Urgent Care, with offices in West Hempstead as well as Midtown and the Financial District of New York City, Dr. Ram Pardeshi wants our patients to know that all forms of depression may carry associated health risks. Here’s what to watch for with untreated depression, and what you can do about it.
Changes in sleep patterns are perhaps the most common symptom of untreated depression. This most often takes the form of insomnia, but it’s also possible that someone with depression may sleep excessively. Even with adequate sleep, you may still feel listless and unrested. Any sleep disruption can lead to physical symptoms typically associated with poor sleep cycles, such as lack of energy and poor concentration.
Depression can lead to overeating or loss of appetite. Food may become a coping mechanism for the emotional effects of depression, or you may lose interest in preparing food or eating. Therefore, weight gain and weight loss can each be symptoms of depression, and nutritional deficiencies may accompany poor eating habits.
A two-way connection between heart conditions and depression seems to exist. Some people with no previous history of depression are more likely to encounter the condition after experiencing a heart attack, while people with depression seem to develop heart disease more readily than the average population. Those who are already depressed are less likely to survive a heart attack.
Pain and fatigue
The way you experience pain may change when you’re depressed. Aches and pains that you may once have shrugged off may become focal points. Recovering from exertion can be slower and coping with activities or injuries can cause fatigue that’s out of proportion with the event.
Immune system suppression
You’re more susceptible to illness when your immune system is weak. Depression contributes by suppressing your immune system. This means that you could easily catch colds, but it may also mean you’re more at risk for serious health threats from other conditions, such as cardiovascular disease.
Changes to your brain
A recent study of depression on brain activity suggests that long-term, untreated depression may increase levels of neurodegenerative brain inflammation. While inflammation is a normal process that’s essential for body repair, excessive inflammation contributes to chronic disease, and it may be a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Science seems to show a connection between the length of depression and the amount of certain proteins associated with brain degeneration.
The importance of early detection and treatment
Untreated depression is a definite threat to your physical health, and the risk is greater the longer your condition goes untreated. True depression is not something you can simply snap out of, even if you’re able to function through your symptoms.
Dr. Pardeshi and our team at Mindful Urgent Care can help you break the cycle of depression using all treatment methods at hand, including lifestyle and behavioral modification, counseling, medication, or a combination of these. Call the most convenient location of Mindful Urgent Care today to start back onto the cycle of wellness, or book an appointment with the online scheduler.