Does Depression Worsen Any Medical Conditions?

Dr. Brendel answers the question: 'Does Depression Worsen Other Conditions?'

ByABC News
February 27, 2008, 4:59 PM

— -- Question: Does depression worsen any medical conditions?

Answer: Depression does worsen numerous medical conditions in adults and there's a number of different ways that can happen. First of all, people with depression do not take good care of themselves. They lack energy and motivation for a variety of self-care activities.

So for example, if somebody has diabetes and they need to monitor their caloric intake and their blood sugars on a regular basis each day, when they become depressed they may not do those things. And blood glucose levels can really get out of control. So people with depression and diabetes are at real risk of having very high blood sugars and a deterioration of their condition, often leading to hospitalization.

So a decrease in self-care is one way that depression can worsen medical conditions. Another important way is that depression has profound effect on the immune system. It increases stress hormone levels and makes it very difficult for the body to repair tissue damage and to fight infections. So individuals with depression are at higher risk for developing severe infections, cancer and other inflammatory illnesses.

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