It’s estimated that up to a third of people suffering from a serious medical condition also experience some symptoms of depression, but experts are unsure about the reasons for the connection. Some say that it’s psychologically driven, as the burden of staying healthy and the stigma associated with many diseases can lead to feelings of intense sadness and depression. Others say that the actual health condition, such as stroke or Parkinson’s disease, can trigger changes in the brain that make us more inclined to sink into depression. Whatever the reason, depression tied to illness can be a very serious, emotional battle. But you don’t have to suffer in silence. Check out these tips for tackling depression and chronic illness together:
- Talk to others facing the same battles. There are websites for many serious illnesses and online support groups where you can talk about depression and treatment, among other topics. Ask your doctor or mental health professional for advice on accessing support outlets in your area.
- Know that treating depression can help improve your overall physical health by motivating you to adhere to your treatment regimen for any particular disease and increasing your chance of recovery.
- Caring for someone who is ill? Depression has been shown to be 10 times more prevalent among caregivers than the general population. For depression resources and support for caregivers, visit caregiver.org or call 800.445.8106.