According to statistics, up to 50% of all adults who suffer from major depression don’t seek any help.
Aside from that, some individuals who do get help may experience a relapse in their condition, making depressive episodes a lifelong illness.
Depression conditions the body and the mind in certain ways, making some of its symptoms crippling based on the severity of the disorder.
But even then, when depression goes untreated, resurfaces frequently or simply lasts longer than expected, it can have devastating effects that can harm people for years to come.
Some of these effects might be irreversible.
Here are 5 of the long-term effects of depression on the mind and the body.
1) Sleeping disorders
Depression can have a variety of negative effects on your sleep.
The brains of depressed people are actually more active during sleep when compared to the average person.
As a result, it can lower your quality of sleep, making your sleeping hours much less effective.
After all, your brain isn’t really resting.
Aside from that, depression is actually the cause of a variety of sleeping disorders such as insomnia and even hypersomnia to a lesser degree.
When put together, these factors can lead to a random sleeping schedule, fatigue and lasting problems with sleep.
Over time, the constant lack of quality sleep is more than likely to build up into chronic fatigue and other lasting problems.
Another problem with chronic fatigue is that it is very difficult to diagnose and treat properly.
Many experts actually misdiagnose insomnia, chronic fatigue, and depression as a result of that.
All three are closely related and figuring out the cause and the effect between them can be a complicated matter.
It is possible for lifelong depression sufferers to also suffer from lifelong sleeping disorders as well.
2) Heart Disease
- About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths
- Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
In other words, heart disease is a complete menace to our society.
The statistics, however, get much worse for those of us who suffer from depression.
1 in 3 heart attack patients also happen to suffer from depression.
Be it the elevated levels of stress hormones among depression sufferers or the bad habits that they adopt, there is certainly a connection between the two.
Depression is considered to be a major risk factor for heart disease.
In fact, there are studies that suggest that depression doubles the long-term risk of death after heart disease.
It also affects the body even after receiving treatment,
Depression is shown to increase the mortality rate of a heart attack within 6 months to 17%, this figure can be compared to the 3% mortality rate of those who don’t suffer from depression.
The scary thing is that among heart patients, depression rarely gets diagnosed and properly treated.
One problem with treatment is that Cardiologists are not trained therapists, and therefore they tend to miss the diagnosis of depression.
Another problem is that certain symptoms of depression, such as fatigue, can make recovery much more difficult.
3) Weight fluctuation and eating disorders
We are all familiar with the concept of comfort food.
Some people eat when they are upset, and others avoid food altogether.
Either way, these habits regarding food are unhealthy at best and downright harmful at worst.
It is not entirely clear to us as to why does depression cause eating disorders, but most experts do agree that it changes the sufferers eating habits.
Depression is typically accompanied by discomfort and, as we have stated earlier, fatigue.
These emotions lead many people to simply lose interest in food, so to speak.
For some of them, the thought of eating may seem unpleasant and the process of making food look like a chore.
In other words, the changes in overall mood may lower appetite and make people less likely to feel hungry.
On the other hand, some people who suffer from depression exhibit a very different problem.
They choose to eat food due to an emotional reason, to fill emotional emptiness rather than physical need.
Emotional hunger won’t be sated, no matter how much food you eat.
Studies also back prove us that this connection is valid.
According to a 2008 study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 21% of bipolar patients met the criteria for eating disorders and an estimated 44% had trouble controlling their eating.
In addition, patients with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) have particularly high depression scores. In fact, about half of all BED patients also suffer from depression.
The problem with that is that eating disorders can actually make depression worse.
It has to do with body image, but people who are anorexic or overweight are particularly self-conscious of their figure.
4) Psychiatric disorders
It is no secret that depression affects our emotions.
But the effects run deeper than that, making our current thoughts and emotions only a result of a much more ingrained change.
In reality, depression changes the very way that our brain functions.
The truth is that depression affects a variety of parts of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala, but it doesn’t actually do any irreversible damage to said parts.
In fact, no changes done to the brain through depression are really “long-term”.
The real problem with these effects is that depression makes you much more susceptible to other mental disorders.
Take the hippocampus for example.
The hippocampus is the part of the brain which is responsible for long-term memory and spatial memory.
According to data, the depression causes the hippocampus to shrink.
That in and of itself isn’t that much of a problem, new hippocampal neurons take up to six weeks grow, which is manageable all things considered.
Rather, the problem is that having a smaller hippocampus is noted to increase the risk of acquiring a stress-related psychiatric disease.
In other words, during the time that you are having a depressive episode, you can start developing other disorders, some of which might require much more effort on your part to overcome.
These can be entirely disconnected from your depression as well, as it is noted that even for those who do not experience significant stress there is still a risk of developing a stress-related disorder.
5) Social risks
Sure, our connection with other people isn’t something that we tend to discuss when it comes to depression and health, but it’s just as important.
Depression thrives on loneliness, and the fact that many depressed people choose to push others aside is extremely harmful to them.
In the end, even the best of friends might lose all interest in friendship if pushed far enough.
The fact is that people want their friends to be enjoyable company, a break from the hardships of reality.
Hanging out with depressed individuals does anything but help them achieve that goal.
The sad thing is that this relationship works both ways: Depression pushes people away from you and being lonely makes you even more depressed.
Data also backs this up.
One demographic that suffers from both loneliness and depression is the elderly demographic.
After all, many of them live on their own and haven’t kept in touch with those that they were familiar with.
Observations and studies of the elderly reveal a significant connection between loneliness and depression.
This situation is much more dangerous than it appears.
By pushing away others and becoming more and more lonely, you are more likely to be further depressed regardless of any particular form of treatment.
This, in turn, can make you much more susceptible to all the other risks of depression.
How bad can depression get? Really bad, but it’s still manageable
Depression can have a variety of effects on both the body and the mind.
In the short term, depressed individuals are exposed to a variety of difficult symptoms.
In the long term, those people are more likely to develop other disorders and illnesses that can last for a long while.
That being said, there is good news.
Depression is a highly treatable disorder and many self-help methods can be used to decrease these risks.
You can start by meditating in the morning, changing your diet, engaging in exercise or even practicing creative writing and journaling.
The point is that, as long as you are willing to take action and improve your condition, it is highly unlikely for you to experience any real, lasting damages from your depression.
One thing that helped me personally to overcome my depression was The Destroy Depression System.
The methods detailed there are very useful, and the program itself is fully refundable.
At the very least its worth checking out.
Before you do that, however, here’s a quick question for you: How has depression affected you in the long-term?
I would love to hear your answers, so make sure to write them down in the comment section below!
If you got any questions that you would like to ask me then feel free to send me an email.
I will do my best to answer it!
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