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Depression can lead to other illnesses

November 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Depression impacts up to 15 million Americans, but most simply think it just affects their mood. Now, new research shows depression can cause muscle pain, headaches, heart damage and other more serious illnesses."We found that the number of times that you've had elevated depressive symptoms, each time increases your risk of developing dementia," said Vonetta Dotson, PhD, Dept. of Clinical and Health Psychology at the University of Florida.

Dotson says a bout with depression is kind of like a blow to head. She found one single episode ups your risk of dementia by 87 percent. With two or more depressive episodes, the risk skyrockets to 200 percent.

"Chronic stress or depression can be associated with damage to the hippocampus, we also know that the hippocampus is implicated in dementia," said Dotson.

Osteoporosis is also linked to depression. One study found women with chronic stress and depression developed bone loss. And one-third of cancer patients surveyed at diagnosis say they've been previously depressed.

As for your heart, a new study shows depression may boost chest inflammation.

"Treatment is really important and might affect their cognitive functioning down the road. And I think that's new information that not everyone is aware of," said Dotson.

That means taking care of both mind and body is key.

Another study found that kidney disease is also linked to depression. Twenty percent of patients in its early stages also suffered from depression before and after their diagnosis.


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