4 Avoidable Depression Complications

Mental health disorders, such as depression, permeate every aspect of your life. If the mental and emotional symptoms weren't enough, depression can wreak havoc on your energy and health. Relationships and work-life can suffer. What's more, depression may cause a multitude of other complications, some of which are even life threatening.

That said, many of these compications are easily skirted. The first step is to know the risks.

Avoidable Complications

1. Other health conditions. People with depression are far more likely to have co-existing health issues. Furthermore, depression can worsen other health problems and increase sensations of pain, making illnesses such as cancer even more difficult.

For example, depression increases the severity of heart attacks and may reduce the effectiveness of heart disease treatment. It may also be a risk factor for heart disease. Individuals with both diabetes and depression are more likely to suffer life-threatening diabetes-related complications. Depression raises your risk for obesity, which then triggers a cascade of additional health troubles, raising your risk for serious illnesses.

2. Substance abuse. Alcohol and recreational drugs can cause and exacerbate depression, and depressed individuals are more likely to abuse recreational drugs. Substance abuse makes depression treatments less effective.

3. Other mental health disorders. Eighty to 90 percent of those with depression struggle with anxiety. These individuals are more likely to experience panic attacks and have additional mental health problems. Furthermore, experts blame two-thirds of suicides on depression and say that 15 percent of those with major depression die by suicide. Depression is also associated with mental decline in the elderly and significantly increases their risk for suicide.

4. Relationship and social problems. If you're depressed, you're more likely to get divorced or become unemployed. In fact, in about half of distressed couples, one spouse is usually suffering from depression.

Avoiding Depression-Related Complications

If you suffer from depression, seek help from a qualified professional who may prescribe medications, psychotherapy, or both. Don't give up on your treatment. If you're not experiencing significant improvement, talk to your mental health provider about alternative treatments.

There's plenty you can do to help yourself. Go back to the basics by:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet,
  • Getting plenty of sleep,
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and drugs,
  • Quit smoking,
  • Exercise more often,
  • And increase your consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.

Consider incorporating mind-body techniques, such as massage, music therapy, or acupuncture, which have all shown to help reduce symptoms of depression.

Depression is a highly treatable disease. Don't let it create additional complications in your life.


University of Maryland Medical Center. "Depression - Complications." Web. 22 January 2009.


MDGuidelines.com. "Depression: Complications." Web.


National Institute for Mental Health. "Diabetes and Depression Associated with Higher Risk for Major Complications." Web. 1 March 2010.