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Other Causes of Depression

Depression and Other Medical Conditions

Heart Disease

Depression is more common in a variety of other illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It can complicate the course of illness during a heart attack and can be related to future complications and even death. Depression is related to a number of heart related factors that can complicate and interfere with the patient's adaptation to and recovery heart disease of all kinds. One way that depression is related to heart disease is through worse self care, such as worse exercise and diet, increased substance abuse and decreased social contacts. Another set of factors involves direct effects on heart rhythm and cardiovascular tone. In addition, depression makes rehabilitation more difficult.

It is important to understand that depression can be difficult to diagnose when a person has both depression and heart disease. In part, this is because they share some of the same symptoms, such as low energy and sleep problems. Also, feeling “blue” may be considered a normal reaction to a serious medical condition and further many patients with heart disease may refuse to acknowledge they are depressed or may not even recognize depression in themselves. Additional information about how to treat patients who have both depression and heart disease can be found at the Center for Mind/Body Research, where there is particular expertise on the interaction of heart disease and depression.

Diabetes

Patients with depression have a substantially higher risk of diabetes and hyperglycemia. In addition, patients with diabetes are at higher risk for depression (approximately 25% higher risk). There is evidence that treating depression improves glycemic control and therefore seeking the appropriate treatment for depression can have an important beneficial effect on overall health. Additional information about how to treat patients who have both depression and diabetes can be found at the Center for Mind/Body Research, where there is particular expertise on the interaction of diabetes and depression.

Cancer

The Siteman Cancer Center has a Psychosocial Oncology Service for evaluation of cancer patients who develop depression and other psychiatric problems. Patients with cancer who are being treated at Siteman can be referred by their treating physician for inpatient evaluation and management of psychological and psychiatric issues related to cancer and its treatment. Outpatient evaluation and treatment is also available for cancer patients and/or family members.

Center for Mind/Body Research

The Depression Program maintains a strong relationship with the Center for Mind/Body Research and particular expertise for the interaction of heart disease, diabetes, cancer with the mind is available through this Center at http://mindbody.wustl.edu.