Having depression is a serious health risk. Not only does it make your life more difficult in the moment, but untreated depression may also pose serious health risks later in life. This makes it incredibly important to recognize and treat your depression early on. If you are interested in learning more about the long-term risks of untreated depression and how you can treat it, keep reading.
What is depression?
Plainly, depression is a mental health condition that affects almost every aspect of your life. Having depression will disrupt your sleep habits, your relationship with your physical body and thoughts, and your worldview.
Depression permeates into every aspect of your life. Living with clinical depression will not simply go away, it must be faced head-on. Without taking steps toward treatment, there are certain long-term risks that you will be more susceptible to later in life.
Recognizing your depression
The first step toward treating your depression to prevent long-term risks is by recognizing your depression. Sometimes, you may be living with depression and not even realize it. Symptoms of depression can vary on a person-to-person basis, so take a full inventory of your emotions and habits if you think you may be suffering from depression.
Some of the most common traits of depression include:
- Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Physical pain such as gastrointestinal issues or back pain
- Suicidal thoughts or tendencies
- Poor appetite or overeating
Long-term effects of depression
Symptoms of depression will not go away on their own. By neglecting to treat your depression, these symptoms will become habits. On top of that, your depression will begin to permanently affect your life. The most common risks of long-term depression include:
- Physical effects: Although depression is a mental health concern, there are plenty of ties between your mental and physical health. Since depression causes problems with your diet and sleep habits, you are more likely to develop chronic insomnia or dietary issues. Researchers also believe that those with untreated depression are more likely to develop heart disease.
- Substance abuse issues: Substances can be used to “self-medicate” or numb your depressive thoughts. Doing this over the course of multiple years is not healthy or advisable. At a certain point, your drug of choice will stop doing the trick and you will need to escalate your dosage. This can lead to serious substance dependency and addiction.
- Relationship health: Although your loved ones are hopefully patient with your depression, over time, your depression forces you to withdraw from others. This means you may cut ties with friends, family members, and other loved ones. We need human connection in our lives, and depression does not make it easy to maintain relationships.
- Self-harm: The biggest long-term risk of untreated depression is suicide. Without receiving the necessary help that you need, you may eventually give in to your suicidal thoughts. This makes it so important to get help. You are worthy of life.
The best way you can treat your depression is by getting professional help. Usually, this means seeing a mental health therapist for routine therapy and a medication routine. However, there are many other effective ways you can lessen the effects of your depression that do not involve therapy or medication, such as the following:
- Changing your diet and exercise habits
- Joining a support group for those with depression
- Practicing self-care through mindfulness
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone on this journey. If you are looking to speak to a therapist, I am always an option. I specialize in treating and alleviating symptoms of depression to mitigate long-term effects. Reach out today to get started.