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Depression and Medical Disorders

Clinical depression commonly accompanies general medical illnesses, although it is often undetected and untreated. In fact, while the rate of major depression among persons in the community is estimated to be between two to four percent, among primary care patients it is between five and ten percent, and among medical inpatients it is between ten and fourteen percent. An additional two to three times as many persons in these groups experience depressive symptoms.

Some studies have suggested that nearly 65% of all visits to primary care physicians involve emotional symptoms associated with psychological problems, with depression being the most common problem. Yet, very few primary care patients are referred for psychological treatment. For this reason, you should consult a psychologist when you have signs of depression, even after you consult your family physician. Research suggests that recognition and treatment of co-occurring depression may improve the outcome of medical conditions, enhance your quality of life, and reduce the degree of pain and disability experienced by the medical patient.

Recently, there has been research suggesting a better recovery rate from many serious illnesses, when psychological treatment is offered as well as medical treatment. This makes a lot of sense, since a serious medical condition can easily result in a reactive depression. There has also been some research that suggests that psychological distress can reduce the effectiveness of your natural immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight disease.  While conclusive evidence of all of these factors is not yet available, there is enough evidence to suggest that psychological treatment may be a benefit to your health, in addition to any medical treatment.

 


More Information About Depression