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Health-Related Depression and Anxiety

By Kate Gardner

Whether we like it or not, most of us will deal with a serious health issue (or two) at some point in our lives. Sometimes these issues are temporary and we sail right through them. But sometimes they leave lasting damage and can change the way we live our lives. When this happens, it's not at all unusual to develop depression or anxiety in response to our illness or injury. 

Health and Depression 

According to, 1 in 3 people who suffer from a chronic (long-term) health problem will report symptoms of depression. The likelihood that a person will become depressed is often tied to how severe their symptoms are and how much the health problem disrupts their life. For many people, the disease and the depression play off one another. For example, pain from severe arthritis can keep someone from doing things they enjoy which, in turn, makes them feel more depressed. 

Certain health conditions are likely to cause depression. WebMD gives us the following information on various health issues and what percentage of patients report symptoms of depression.  

  • Cancer - 25 percent
  • Heart attack - 40 to 65 percent
  • Chronic pain (such as arthritis) - 30 to 54 percent
  • Diabetes - 25 percent

Health and Anxiety 

While there is often overlap in symptoms of depression and anxiety, people can develop acute anxiety problems in the face of chronic or life-changing health issues. Kathleen Smith, PhD, writes for "Roughly 40 percent of people with cancer report experiencing psychological distress that often takes the shape of excessive worry or panic attacks." Anxiety in response to illness can cause a number of issues including: 

  • Inability to sleep
  • Excessive worry about health and dying
  • Panic attacks
  • Social isolation

As with depression, these anxiety symptoms can make the symptoms of illness or injury even worse. 

A Way Out

While you may have to learn to live with a chronic health condition, you shouldn't have to live with depression and anxiety. There are lots of things you can do to feel better. 

  • Therapy - Talking to someone about your feelings can do wonders for your mood. Several forms of therapy have been shown to help those with chronic illness, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, people learn to change the way they think about their illness. 

  • Medicine - Medications for anxiety and depression can be helpful, as well. Working with a healthcare provider to find the right one to manage your symptoms can be very helpful. 

  • Support - Knowing that you are not alone is invaluable. Odds are there is a support group for someone just like you, either in real life or online. Support groups can help you find a community of people who understand what you're going through as well as help you navigate your new life post-diagnosis. 

It's important to remember that anxiety and depression don't have to be a part of the rest of your life. Talk with your healthcare provider to get started on treating these symptoms. It can get better. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Azusa, Calif.

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