It’s a classic chicken-and-egg situation. Study after study shows that depression raises your risk for serious health issues like heart attack, stroke, and diabetes, while diagnoses of these same illnesses make a patient at higher risk for – you guessed it – depression.
Dr. Mihaela Perijoc has spent her entire career focusing on patient-centered care that recognizes how our physical and emotional health are interwoven. Since 1 in 10 American adults suffers from depression, she is dedicated to creating a treatment plan that will not only lift your depression, but will also lower your risk for other health problems.
What is clinical depression?
Clinical depression is more than just being bummed out for a day or two. It’s a serious mental health condition where negative thoughts about yourself and melancholy feelings override everything else. The condition can also become debilitating, making it hard to keep up with your life or even to just get out of bed and face the day.
Specific symptoms associated with a depression diagnosis include:
- Overwhelming sadness and indifference or hopelessness
- Trouble eating and sleeping
- Anxiety and lack of ability to focus
- Anger and impatience
Physical symptoms caused by depression include widespread pain problems, recurrent headaches, and digestive issues. The emergence of these symptoms coupled with the emotional turmoil that accompanies depression can make you catastrophize and wonder if you’ll ever care about anything again.
What causes depression?
Many factors put you at higher risk for depression, including:
- Chemical changes in the brain – neurotransmitters are brain chemicals and the ways they function affect mood
- A family history of depression
- Hormonal changes, such as with postpartum depression
- Being female
- A history of trauma, including physical or sexual abuse
- Loss of a loved one or another unexpected negative event such as job loss
- Chronic illness
- Advanced age
- Alcohol and recreational drug use
- Certain prescription medications
How is depression linked to increased risk of disease?
Depression can turn off your desire to maintain a healthy lifestyle like a light switch. If you’re depressed, you’re much less likely to engage in good self-care, like getting enough exercise, eating well, or spending time with friends.
Add stress into the mix, and people tend to deal with depression in decidedly unhealthy ways, often by smoking, overeating (particularly those “comfort foods” that are high in sugar and fat), or using alcohol excessively. All of these responses increase cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and glucose levels. And these depression-fueled practices can quickly send you on the path toward a heart attack, stroke, or type 2 diabetes.
Increased stress hormones also weaken your immune system, which is your body’s most important tool for fighting illness.
How can depression be treated?
Left untreated, depression can lead to isolation and suicidal thoughts, which is why it’s critical that you seek treatment immediately if you’re experiencing symptoms. Unfortunately, society still places a stigma on people seeking treatment for mental health issues, considering them “weak.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Seeking treatment for depression is truly the first step to feeling better and to lowering your risk for other diseases. Since brain chemical imbalances are usually a major factor in depression, Dr. Perijoc regularly prescribes antidepressants or related drugs, and there are many to choose from. She works to find the right one and pinpoint the correct dosage to meet your needs.
Dr. Perijoc typically encourages patients to engage in talk therapy in conjunction with using antidepressants. This combination is very successful for many patients.
Since Dr. Perijoc’s approach is holistic, she talks with you about healthy lifestyle habits that will also support your recovery. And perhaps most importantly, she cares enough to truly listen to what you have to say. She’s as invested in seeing your energy and joy restored as you are.
Getting started on the road to recovery from depression
Take the first step on your journey toward healing emotionally and toward lowering your risk for some serious physical conditions. We encourage you to contact us by phone at 214-216-6932 or book an appointment online for an initial consultation today!