Is it possible to have other illnesses as well as Depression?
The vast majority of people with depression also have accompanying symptoms of anxiety such as excessive worrying, nervousness, restlessness, panicky feelings, difficulty falling asleep, or physical complaints such as headaches or muscle tension. In fact, these symptoms can be so severe that sufferers often seek help from their doctor for anxiety or a physical complaint, only to discover that the underlying problem is depression.
The most common illnesses associated with depression are: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and drug or alcohol abuse.
The more illnesses a person has, the more difficult treatment becomes. But don't be discouraged, there are treatment options that can treat the different disorders associated with depression at the same time.
It is therefore important to tell your doctor about all your symptoms so a proper diagnosis and treatment can be made.
A word about Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This is a scary, confusing illness that affects the way you think and feel. GAD is a medical illness that causes you to worry so much, about so many things, that you begin to feel anxious all the time. Soon, the worry is all you can think about and it may consume you.
Although most people worry about one thing or another at different times in their life, these worries generally do not interfere with their day-to-day routines or bother them for very long. But for those suffering from GAD, everyday problems become a source of constant anxiety and worry that take over their lives. People suffering from this disorder usually expect the worst, worrying excessively about money, health, family or work, even when there are no signs of trouble.
Many sufferers are plagued with severe muscle tension in their neck, back, and shoulders. Other physical symptoms often accompanying GAD include trembling, twitching, headaches, irritability, sweating and, in some cases, hot flashes. GAD patients often have trouble concentrating, tend to feel tired all the time, and may startle easily. They are unable to relax and often suffer from insomnia. It is not unusual for them to have difficulty keeping a job, staying in relationships, or maintaining friendships.
Because of the constant fear that something "bad" will happen at any moment, they often become depressed.
A word about Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
It is almost impossible to go through a single day without seeing or talking to another person. But for the people suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder the thought of having to interact with others is frightening. They are afraid that they may do or say something "stupid" in front of others. They often avoid eating, drinking or writing in public places because of the fear that they will do something to embarrass themselves. These patients often go out of their way to avoid many different social situations. They often experience a great deal of anxiety prior to a known upcoming social or public event, which often leads to irrational thoughts about losing control, which in turn, causes them to fear the situation even more.
Because of their fear of embarrassment, They often isolate themselves from others. And the isolation often causes them to be depressed.
A word about Panic Disorder
Up to four people in 100 will experience episodes of intense, over-whelming fear that can reach a peak within ten minutes and comes on suddenly and unexpectedly. During these attacks, it is not unusual to feel that they are having a heart attack, are being suffocated, or are going crazy. During these periods, they often say they have heart palpitations, a rapid heart beat, and shortness of breath or choking. There may also be sweating, nausea, diarrhea, trembling and shaking during these attacks. As well, the they may describe a sense of things being unreal, or that they feel detached from themselves. These symptoms together are known as a panic attack. When a person has repeated and unexpected panic attacks, they are diagnosed as having Panic Disorder.
After a person has experienced when one or two attacks, there can be great anxiety and worry about when the next attack will occur. Some people with Panic Disorder end up developing agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or in which help may not be available. This is because after a panic attack, they learn to fear having another attack in the same place or in a location where it occurred. If agoraphobia becomes severe enough, they may become housebound and unable to perform normal daily activities.
Panic Disorder is often misunderstood. People with the disorder may spend months or years trying to find an explanation for what they feel are mysterious physical symptoms. Others won't seek treatment because they are embarrassed, think their condition is due to stress, or they are afraid of what the doctor may diagnose.
Because of their constant fear of having a panic attack, they often isolate themselves from others.
A word about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is a two part medical illness. The first part involves worrying excessively about something (an obsession), which in turn often causes a great deal of anxiety or distress to the person. The second part involves the intense need to do something to help get rid of the anxiety (compulsion) caused by the obsession.
Obsessions are described as unwanted, disturbing ideas or impulses that occur spontaneously and often don't make sense to the person or to the people around them. Common examples of obsessions are: persistent fears of contamination by dirt or germs, thoughts of being responsible for harm to one's self or others, or the fear of forgetting to do something.
Compulsions are the behaviors (rituals or routines) that they are compelled to do, to help control the anxiety associated with their obsession. For example a ritual for someone who has a fear of contamination may involve washing their hands repeatedly, in many instances to the point that their skin is sore and raw. Others have rituals that involve checking and rechecking, such as checking to see that the door is locked. Some others have an extreme need to make sure that things have been done absolutely correctly.
People with OCD often recognize and understand that their behavior is unusual and unreasonable, but by performing their compulsions they gain temporary relief from their anxiety.
A word about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a serious psychiatric disorder that affects thousands of people each year. In fact, in any given year 5% of the population can expect to suffer from PTSD. Although, once thought to occur only in war veterans, we now understand that it can develop in anyone who has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as being in a car accident. One out of two people will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime.
Although we all deal with traumatic events differently, many people do not suffer any adverse effects from a traumatic event. However there are people who will experience or witness a traumatic event and continue to re-experience the event over and over again, sometimes for months or years. They may begin to avoid situations or conversations that remind them of the traumatic event. They may have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep. They often startle easily and may seem "overly" alert like they are anticipating another traumatic event. For these people the trauma never seems to end — they have PTSD.
People with PTSD may become depressed because of what they witnessed or experienced, or they may become depressed because they feel as if they have been unable to cope as well as others in the same situation.
It is important to understand that the medical illnesses associated with depression including PTSD are treatable. Talk to your doctor about all your symptoms and how they make you feel. There are medications and treatments that can treat depression and the medical illnesses associated with depression.
A word about Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Often, people suffering from depression will use drugs or alcohol to feel better. It is important to understand that alcohol and drugs can cause greater anxiety and deeper depression in the long run, which can make the situation worse.
The long-term effects of drug or alcohol abuse can be very damaging to your physical health and well-being. It can also be very disruptive to your family, friends and other relationships. When talking to your doctor, be honest about any drug or alcohol use. Drugs and alcohol can seriously affect the effectiveness of the treatment your doctor prescribes and can lead to dangerous side effects.
There are treatments that can help you with drug and alcohol abuse. Talk to your doctor about which treatments are best for you.