Regardless of depression’s many sources, depression is caused by a chemical imbalance, or lack, within your body. Which chemicals, and their amounts, depend on the source of the mental illness. Many of these conditions are hereditary; some are produced in situational, stressful conditions, like overwork, insomnia, poor human relationships and even indeterminately overcast weather. These are common depression sources and all espouse their own treatment options.
But, for those with clinical depression seeking a psychiatrist and asking for prescription medicine may seem like the best viable option. If the depression does not seem caused by outside triggers, the problem must dwell from within and can be fixed from within. Patients may seek prescription medication, or natural remedies that slowly chip the symptoms away.
You may not consider, at first, visiting your primary healthcare provider.
Many conditions precede depression. Even if you do not feel physically sick, studies show that depression symptoms can be symptoms of greater, and more physiologically serious, conditions. Before researching a psychiatrist, describe your symptoms to your doctor and make sure you don’t have one of the following conditions:
The thyroid in all adults produces important hormones for the remainder of your life. These hormones regulate other hormones produced by the brain and are critical in maintaining the body’s chemical balance. If the thyroid stops producing these chemicals, however, or does not produce enough, the body’s hormones and chemicals are thrown off-balance, leading to many physical and emotional side-effects. This condition is called “hypothyroidism,” or “less than active” (hypo) thyroid. The condition is most common in women—and especially in women older than sixty—but can statistically develop in all adults.
The chemical imbalance causes depression symptoms, as hormonal imbalances are directly linked to sudden mood swings, angry feelings, sad feelings and anxiety. In its earliest stages, hypothyroidism can be undetectable, save for the symptoms of mental illness. Over time, the condition can cause obesity and heart problems, as well as joint pain. Initially, however, those with hypothyroidism-induced depression may only assert that they have depression. A psychiatrist cannot diagnose hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism, and thereby the depression symptoms, can only be treated by re-introducing the missing hormone into your body. The thyroid can be surgically replaced, or the hormone can be taken in capsule form. No natural remedies exist with the hormone thyroids produce; depression medication and treatments will either not work against these symptoms, or mask the symptoms of a much larger condition. Masking the symptoms of hypothyroidism can prove disastrous for your health.
Some cancers, though not all, have been linked in research to depression symptoms. While all adults should schedule once-yearly checkups and cancer screenings, many of these symptoms will appear before symptoms more directly linked to the cancer. Chief among these cancers is pancreatic cancer.
Other symptoms can signal growing pancreatic cancer, but many of those are often commonly ignored, depression included. Mood changes associated with pancreatic cancer and chemical imbalances can lead to depression. Other cancer signs include digestive changes, diabetes, body pain, or jaundice.
When you visit a primary health care provider for symptoms of depression, they will screen for chemicals present in the blood and conduct an MRI. These exams can catch early stage cancer and potentially save lives put in peril due to misdiagnosis.
You can know that you have diabetes, yet not know that your diabetes is causing your depression. Or, a patient can contract diabetes much later in life. Studies show that patients with diabetes are more than twice as likely to contract depression.
The exact links remain unclear. It could be that diabetes facilitates depression due to low insulin and diet changes. Or, depression can increase the risk of diabetes. Regardless of which, a healthcare provider can determine which chemicals your body lacks, if any, regarding depression and diabetes.
Some patients develop diabetic depression due to stress, bodily changes, diet changes, and lack of confidence. Many patients must eat very frequently, causing natural weight gain that can sometimes stress the body. The glucose levels in a person with diabetes can often lack balance, even with an insulin dosage, which causes mood swings and sad feelings.
Additionally, diabetes can be cause by the above pancreatic cancer. Cells in the pancreas produce insulin and, if the pancreas develops a tumor, the tumor can disrupt insulin production and develop symptoms of depression by extension.
Those heart disease, or those who recently had a heart attack, are more likely to develop depression than the rest of the population. Conversely, those with depression diagnosed first are also more likely to face cardiac health problems. The issue becomes two-fold.
There could easily be a link between the shock of a heart condition on the body, forcing the brain to release panic response chemicals that exacerbate the same heart conditions. Studies show a psychological link between heart health and depression; those with diagnosed heart conditions can often feel fear, dread, worthlessness, and other moods that create an atmosphere for depression. Cardiac disease in its early stages can thirdly affect blood pressure, heart rate, and otherwise change the body’s chemical balance in ways that trigger depressive episodes. Symptoms appear differently for every person.
Healthcare providers diagnose both depression and heart disease and prescribe the necessary treatment. Be wary of the side effects of prescription medication and vocalize any concerns to your doctor.
Clearly, these common causes of depression vastly differ. Treating the symptoms of depression with a psychiatrist rather than a physician can lead to masking symptoms of a greater condition. While the chances of contracting a disease like the ones listed above are slim, those chances exist. Be patient when coming up with a depression or anxiety treatment plan; consult psychologists and doctors before seeking psychiatric evaluation. Depression occurs in many ways that do not always concern the brain.
If your family has a history of any of the above conditions, or you feel that you may be at risk, seek immediate treatment. Do you know about any other conditions that cause depression or mental illness?