Depression affects mood, body and mind

December 27, 2010

"I couldn't function, I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I lost a tremendous amount of weight," said Gina Adkins.

"I had to make a rational decision whether or not to go home to these two or drive my car off the road," said Lauren Machos

"I was on three different kinds of depression meds at one point," said Alison Parker.

Depression isn't just about your mood any more: New studies show it might lead to disease, too.

"We found that the number of times that you've had elevated depressive symptoms increases your risk of developing dementia," said University of Florida's Vonetta Dotson, Ph.D.

Dotson says a bout with depression is kind of like a blow to head. She found one single episode increases your risk of dementia by 87 percent. Two or more depressive episodes: skyrockets the risk to 200 percent.

"Chronic stress or depression can be associated with damage to the hippocampus, we also know that the hippocampus is implicated in dementia," Dotson said.

Osteoporosis is also linked to depression. One study found women with chronic stress and depression developed bone loss. One-third of cancer patients surveyed at diagnosis say they've been previously depressed.

As for your heart, a new study shows depression may boost chest inflammation.

"Treatment is really important and might affect their cognitive functioning down the road and I think that's new information that not everyone is aware of," Dotson says.

Another study in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases found that kidney disease is also linked to depression. About 20 percent of patients in its early stages also suffered from depression before and after their diagnosis.

This all means that taking care of both mind and body is key.

"I needed to go in and get some help," Lauren Machos said.

And that help may lead to a healthier, longer life.

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