Several studies performed on patients with chronic health conditions have revealed a significant prevalence of clinical depression in most of them. In most of these studies, about a quarter of the chronically ill patients personally admitted to have experienced various depression symptoms subsequent to the onset of their illness.
An illness is termed chronic when it either keeps recurring or persisting for a long time, mostly due to lack of reliable treatment technique. Some of these 'untreatable' medical conditions can last for durations that range from a few months to a lifetime. Such illnesses include high blood pressure, HIV/Aids, heart conditions, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), arthritis, epilepsy, kidney disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
Chronic illness complications and symptoms management is mostly done through medication, physiotherapy or exercise, restricted diet among other techniques. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the majority of chronic illnesses patients complain about similar complications that revolve around their social, psychological and physical wellbeing.
Psychological problems such as depression often stem from the incessant physical pain, social isolation and neglect, emotional anguish, false beliefs about the illness, symptom overwhelm, diminished physical capabilities and energy, medication side effects among other factors. Apart from that, depressive illnesses can be caused directly by illnesses and medications which affect the brain, the central nervous system or endocrine system.
Ailments such as multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy have direct biological effects that alter the structure and functionality of the neurological and endocrine systems. These changes frequently contribute towards the development of depression.
Clinical depression is a serious medical condition whose symptoms include pervasively low mood, motivation and energy levels, feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, irritability, tearfulness, mysterious bodily aches and pains, sleeping problems and appetite changes. Other important symptoms of depression include social withdrawal, reduced mental abilities and lack of interest in seeking rewarding or pleasurable activities.
Unfortunately, most of these chronically ill patients rarely receive treatment nor tested for depression as should be the case. Possible reasons for this anomaly include a lack of awareness about depression and its symptoms or the mistaken assumption that the experienced depression symptoms are actually part of the chronic illness.
Untreated depression considerably weighs down on the effectiveness of any chronic ailment management method. Depression sufferers who also have an underlying chronic health problem respond very poorly to treatment for both ailments. However both physical and mental health specialists agree that proper psychological health is essential for a quick and problem free recovery process of most illnesses let alone chronic ones. Therefore, as part of their recovery strategy, such individuals should ensure that they undergo diagnosis and treatment for depression as a way of enhancing their healing process as well as improving their health overall status.
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