Lifeline Connections

Chronic Disease and Mental Health

Chronic Diseases and Mental Health

Chronic diseases and mental health have long been linked. Illnesses like cancer, diabetes and heart disease are common in the United States, especially with age. Many of these diseases require long-term treatment and cause financial strain. This adds additional stress that can lead to mental health disorders. Common mental health disorders like depression have a tendency to co-occur with chronic illnesses, either as a symptom or as a result of the disease.

One example that has a comorbidity of depression and other mood disorders is cancer. There are many things about chronic illnesses that can cause anxiety and depression; additional financial stress, number of medications, increased doctor’s visits and long-term need for care. Almost a quarter of those diagnosed with cancer will experience depression throughout their treatment and cancer survivors who have depression are at twice the likelihood of suicide risk. Certain cancers like leukemia have depression as one of the main symptoms of the disease. While cancer is a common chronic illness there are many others including heart disease and diabetes. These are associated with higher risk of mood disorders. For this reason, it’s important to consider mental health screenings.

Little is known about the tie between chronic diseases and mental health, or how one might cause the other. It’s difficult to determine whether mood changes and depression might be a symptom of a chronic illness or if the chronic illness is inducing the depressive symptoms. Someone suffering from a mental health disorder might be too depressed to take care of themselves and their health properly leading to the development of chronic illness. Conversely, chronic illness might induce the development of a mental health disorder. Either way the two are intricately linked and more research is needed in the field to understand the connection further.

Whatever the sequence of events, getting treatment for a mood disorder whether or not it’s in the presence of a chronic illness is important. Depression and other mood disorders have many treatment options even when there are other comorbid disorders. Psychologists are trained to help those facing mental health disorders and chronic illnesses at the same time. There are a number of therapies, such as Cabstand antidepressants that are very effective in treatment. For more severe cases of depression there are other brain stimulation methods such as ECT and TMS. These help alleviate depression by targeting specific parts of the brain.

There are many different ways to combat mental health disorders and each patient is different. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health disorder, like depression or anxiety, please contact the professional team at Lifeline Connections. You can visit or call (360) 397-8246 for more information.


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