8 Medical Risks of Depression

medical-risks-of-depressionDepression is a mental illness that affects approximately 14.8 million adults. If left untreated, depression can adversely affect your physical health.

Heart Disease

Depression can lead to heart disease, make heart disease worse, and make it more difficult to recover from complications of heart disease. In fact, depression can increase your risk of having a heart attack. Heart disease is compounded by depression and increases your risk of dying by almost 20 percent.


Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s still a possibility if you suffer from untreated depression. Depression may cause you to eat poorly and stop exercising, which results in weight gain and a possible diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. Approximately 20 percent of those with diabetes also suffer form depression.


Depression may increase your risk for obesity by 58 percent! Because many people who have untreated depression self-medicate with food, gaining weight is inevitable. Furthermore, untreated depression may cause your body to secrete stress hormones that promote belly fat.

Decline in Mental Faculties

Untreated depression can contribute to loss of brainpower, especially if you’re elderly. Brain scans have proved that depression causes shrinkage in certain areas of the brain, and untreated depression early in life increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Substance Abuse

Untreated depression may cause you to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, which can wreak havoc on your physical health. Not only will you still suffer from depression, you’ll also have to deal with substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol make depression more difficult to treat and can lead to depression.


Roughly 25 percent of people with cancer also have depression, which can have a negative effect on your immune system, making the cancer worse. One study concluded that those with breast cancer and depression were more likely to have a higher rate of recurrence and early death. Treatment for depression can help boost your mood and offset emotional distress.

Chronic Pain

Dealing with chronic pain is difficult on its own, but adding untreated depression to the mix is a recipe for increased stress and negative effects on your body. You’re three times more likely to suffer from migraines if you’re dealing with major depressive disorder, and, those with depression are 50 percent more likely to complain of physical symptoms of pain while visiting the doctor. Pain makes depression worse and depression makes pain more difficult to treat.


This is the most dangerous risk of untreated depression. Your risk of suicide increases when substance abuse is involved. Approximately two-thirds of all suicides are caused by depression. If you think that suicide is your only way out, call 911 immediately!

Depression is an actual illness that needs to be treated, just like any physical illness. Medications are available to help you deal with the symptoms of depression. Regular therapy will also help you develop more effective coping strategies and help you overcome the dark abyss of depression.

Dr. Amanda Itzkoff is trained in Psychotherapy and Psychopharmacology in New York, and can help you move beyond the symptoms caused by depression. If you are looking for more information on depression, please feel free to contact us via email. To schedule a consultation, please contact our office at 917-609-4990.

Be Well,
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff

dr. amanda.

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