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Depression and risk of other medical illnesses
Apr 17, 2011

I just read that depression can increase the risks for developing coronary artery disease , HIV ,asthma, and many other medical illnesses. What does that mean? Does it mean if someone is suffering from depression they will get these diseases? Please help - I'm soooo confused.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

It's not surprising that depression could result from the diagnosis of a major medical illness, but it is also true, as you note, that depression can increase the risks of developing such illnesses. For example, about 20% of persons with coronary heart disease also have a history of depression, and depressed persons have a higher risk of death following a heart attack than those who are not depressed. However, not all depressed persons are at risk for coronary heart disease (or other illnesses) and the reasons are not yet well understood.

The good news is that depression is a treatable condition. Speak to your healthcare provider about your concerns. Simple screening tools are available that can help diagnose a depressive disorder. There are many effective medications that have few side effects and which, when combined with psychotherapy, have made a tremendous difference in people's lives. Remember, the most effective treatment is a combination of antidepressant medications and some form of psychotherapy.



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