Are There Medical Conditions That Cause Depression?

Dr. David Brendel answers the question: 'Conditions That Can Cause Depression?'

ByABC News
February 27, 2008, 4:55 PM

— -- Question: Are there any medical conditions that can cause depression?

Answer: There are numerous medical conditions that can cause depression in adults. This is why it's so important for psychiatrists and other physicians who are diagnosing depression to think broadly about the possible underlying causes of the condition.

What are some of the medical conditions that might cause depression? Well, there's a whole variety that I won't list here, but let me mention some of the most common. Thyroid conditions are extremely common in the adult population in the United States and they can often lead to depression, both an overactive thyroid and an underactive thyroid can lead to depression. And a simple blood test can diagnosis hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism and lead to appropriate treatment that may be very helpful for relieving the depression.

There are several other conditions that can also cause depression that need to be thought about and diagnosed by psychiatrists and other medical doctors in patients who present to them with complaints of depression. For example, any kind of structural brain problem can lead to depression. That might include a stroke or a brain tumor or multiple sclerosis. Degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's dementia, Parkinson's disease or Huntington's disease also frequently manifest with depression as does traumatic brain injury.

Cardiac conditions often are highly associated with depression and treatment for the cardiac condition and the depression should happen aggressively and at the same time.

Psychiatrists need to be thinking as medical doctors when they approach their patients who are complaining of depression. And at times, may need to order a variety of blood tests or brain images or EEGs to rule out seizure disorders. And in many cases need to collaborate closely with primary care doctors and other medical specialists to clarify the diagnosis and to find and implement the appropriate treatment.

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