Depression Complications If Left Untreated
Depression affects a lot of people, millions in fact. And the long-term effects of ignoring depression and leaving it untreated can often be quite damaging to a person. In some cases these long-term effects can even be fatal, leading to consequences that could genuinely have an impact upon the sufferer’s mortality. The main aim for a sufferer of depression is to seek and gain treatment. This could mean all kinds of treatment, from regular exercise to medication. If that treatment is not acquired, there is a very real chance that the sufferer could face serious consequences as their condition worsens.
One of the biggest consequences of ignoring depression and the symptoms is substance abuse. This is where the sufferer feels that the only way they can manage the symptoms of depression is to get involved in the use of substances like alcohol and other drugs. The problem is that these ‘medications’ do not provide anything other than short-term relief from symptoms, and they can become very addictive very quickly. The general advice here is to ensure that substance use does not turn into substance abuse, where the substance is used irresponsibly and becomes another addiction for the sufferer to deal with.
In some countries and cultures depression is not really viewed as a legitimate and recognized illness. This is because some countries and cultures attach a stigma to depression. It is seen as a sign of weakness rather than a genuine illness that the sufferer has little control over. This is why many sufferers consequently decide that to hide the symptoms s better than to have to show the rest of the world that they suffer from depression. Substance abuse becomes a way to do this. Through drinking and drug use, the short-term relief of the symptoms of depression becomes a way of life.
However, things then become a lot worse. Substance abuse leads to further medical complications that can seriously affect the health and life expectancy of the patient. Alcoholism alone can kill the patient within a few years, as their body gradually wastes away through misuse of alcohol. Pain relievers can be abused too, which leads to serious medical consequences that could reduce the life expectancy of the sufferer. Such addictive behavior can lead to death by accidental overdose, organ failure and other serious and fatal consequences that are all due to the abuse of substances.
The effect of leaving depression untreated can have a real and serious effect upon mortality rates. Recent research has shown that someone who has suffered form the symptoms of depression for a significant time and has gone untreated could die 25 years earlier than a patient wit similar background without depression. When the levels of serotonin in our brain are affected by depression, it naturally affects the other chemicals that the body releases to take care of itself. The body’s natural and self-preserving fight or flight response is affected. This means that the body can be pushed into a fight or flight situation quickly and randomly. This can only affect our nervous system, which leads to long-term damage.
All of this can lead to stress for the internal workings of our body, including stress to arteries and blood vessels. This can lead to stickiness of the platelets, which only means more problems occurring. It is now well known that many depression sufferers are completely unaware of this medical aspect f leaving depression untreated for a long period of time. If more sufferers of depression knew the physical impact of neglecting their symptoms, there would be fewer issues as regards medical care and mortality.
One of the biggest and most common consequences of leaving depression untreated is a phenomenon called social withdrawal. This is where the sufferer literally begins to pull back from society, and become a person who would rather shrink away from anything like normal life. This does not happen to all sufferers who have left their treatment, but it can happen to many.
There is a chemical in the brain called serotonin. This is a chemical that causes humans to feel happy and contented. If this chemical is withdrawn to any large extent, it can cause all sort so complicating factors that can reduce the patient’s ability to be part of society. Serotonin can make us feel social and willing to engage with others in a positive way. If we do not have ample supplies of it in our systems, we could quite easily feel that we do not want to engage in any way with anyone else in our immediate or distant group. For example, we may find that we feel like not engaging with work colleagues when they are having a friendly discussion. Small talk may become an issue. Even intimacy with loved ones may be severely affected by a lack of serotonin.
The sufferer may feel that social activities, even simple ones like going for a walk with a friend, may not be worth leaving their bed for. This can then lead to not wanting to go to work. Obviously this has a massive impact on the income potential of such a person, and this can be one of the first things that goes wrong. However, imagine if a person was so socially withdrawn that they did not feel that they could motivate themselves to get to the doctors for what could be a simple appointment for a small illness or complaint. This could get a lot worse and they would literally not leave their house even when their health depends upon it.
All of these separate consequences of leaving depression untreated can be very problematic, and in some cases they can literally leave the sufferer in mortal danger. The best thing any sufferer of depression can do is get active, and try and deal with the problem proactively. If you are a family member and someone in your family suffers from depression, then you need to do your best to make sure that an appropriate programme of treatment is in place soon enough.