Before the COVID-19 crisis, depression was one of the leading mental illnesses in the United States, with more than 16 million adults (almost 7% of the adult population) caught in its grips. Since the pandemic, however, the Census Bureau and the CDC report that one-quarter of Americans are now displaying signs of depression and/or anxiety.
Whether you’re new to depression or it’s been a most unwelcome companion for years, leaving the disorder untreated can have a serious impact on your mental and physical health.
At Central Clinic, Dr. Poonam Malhotra and our team of family medicine specialists understands the far-reaching effects that depression can have on your life, from the overwhelming despair to issues with unexplained pain.
Here’s a look at why getting your depression treated is so important for regaining your quality of life.
The first thing to understand about depression is that the term itself is a catchall for a number of different mood disorders, including:
- Major depressive disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Postpartum depression
The exact mechanisms behind depression are still being researched, but what we’ve found is that when depression of any kind takes hold, it causes certain areas of your brain to become dormant. In fact, one study found that those who have major depressive disorder experience a loss of volume in their brains.
What we do know is that depression causes changes in your brain that lead to:
- Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and/or despair
- Feelings of worthlessness
- A loss of interest in activities you once loved
- Loss of libido
While these symptoms describe the effects that depression can have on your mental health, depression casts a wide net and can affect your physical health, too.
Depression and your body
Outside of the emotional and behavioral effects that come with depression, the disorder can also lead to physical problems, such as:
- Sleep issues
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Substance misuse
- Unexplained body aches and pain
- Compromised immune system
Making matters worse, depression can often lead to increased sensitivity to pain, which can make even a small problem much larger.
If your depression goes untreated, these symptoms can worsen and lead to much larger physical problems. For example, if you have depression and you find that you’re overeating, not sleeping well, and you’ve completely lost interest in physical activity, the net result can lead to very serious heart health issues like high blood pressure or other chronic conditions like diabetes.
As you can see, the initial physical problems that came with your depression can beget much bigger health issues, which is why you should seek treatment at the earliest signs of the problem.
When you come in, Dr. Malhotra fully evaluates your symptoms, your medical history, and your family’s medical history. If she finds that you suffer from depression, she tailors a treatment plan to your unique situation and goals, which may include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Prescription medications
- Talk therapy
- Stress management techniques
Rest assured, we work diligently to free you from your depression using every tool available.
If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, don’t delay treatment any longer. Simply contact our office in Spring Hill, Florida, to schedule an appointment to get on the road to better mental health.