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How Untreated Depression Can Harm Your Physical Health

Just as you shouldn’t skip prescribed insulin for diabetes or blood pressure medication for hypertension, you shouldn’t bypass appropriate care for depression. Doing so can lead to a broad range of complications that detract from all aspects of your wellness, including your physical health. 

If you’re one of the 19 million Americans living with depression in the United States, it’s important to know that effective treatments are available. At Wellness Road Psychology, Philip Glickman, Psy.D., and Jaime Karia, LCSW, can help you better manage even your most debilitating depression symptoms.

Depression symptoms

There are many types of depression, which impact people differently. Major depression causes ongoing symptoms, including a lack of pleasure or interest in enjoyable activities. Not to mention, people who suffer from depression experience at least four of the following symptoms for at least two weeks:

If your depression lasts over two years, it’s considered a persistent depressive disorder. Depression that peaks during certain times of the year, such as the winter, is known as a seasonal affective disorder. Symptoms brought on by childbirth indicate postpartum depression. Without treatment, these conditions worsen over time.

Depression and poor heart function

There’s no question depression can negatively impact cardiovascular health. The symptoms from depression can raise your risk of events like heart attack and stroke. As a bit of a Catch 22, cardiac events can bring about or worsen depression. In fact, people with heart disease might be twice as likely to die if they develop depression.

Depression and immune function

Depression is also linked with reduced immune system function. When you’re struggling with untreated depressive symptoms, your body can’t fight off infections as well. As a result, you may end up with frequent symptoms that linger on or become more severe. If you’re an older adult with depression, certain vaccines may even be less effective. 

Depression and sleep loss

Depression keeps many people up at night, causing even worse symptoms during the day. This lack of sleep can fuel many problems that impact your physical health, from diabetes and heart disease to a greater risk for car accidents and injuries. When you’re exhausted, you might also notice your appetite increases out of a need for more energy. In some cases, this leads to increased inflammation and unwanted weight gain.

Depression and sexual health

Depression also impacts physical intimacy and sexual health. You might notice a drop in sexual desire, for example, which may lead to feelings of shame or inadequacy. Reduced self-esteem and poor body image, associated with depression, can also interfere with sexual function. Some people with untreated depression experience vaginal dryness, which can make intercourse painful. 

To get support and care for your depression symptoms and lower your risk for these complications, contact Wellness Road Psychology to book an appointment. Our team of experts would love to help improve your mental and physical well-being.

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