According to the National Institute of Mental Health, major depression is one of the most common mental disorders among adults in the U.S.
A major depressive episode is typically defined as a period of two weeks or more where the person has symptoms of depression including mood changes as well as at least four other symptoms that indicate problems in function such as sleeping or eating issues.
Also based on information compiled by the National Institute of Mental Health, there were more than 16 million U.S. adults who at least one major depressive episode over the period of the past year, which is nearly seven percent of the adult population in America.
Unfortunately, despite the relative commonality of major depression and depressive episodes, so many people do nothing about it, for various reasons. With major depression, also often referred to as clinical depression, treatment options are varied and range from a combination of medicine and psychotherapy to options such as TMS treatment for depression not responding to medication.
Despite the availability of diverse treatment options, so many people don’t seek help, so what happens when depression goes untreated?
When depression goes untreated, it’s not just a mental issue, but it’s also a physical issue. Some of the most serious issues that have been associated with untreated major depression include coronary artery disease and stroke.
It’s also been shown that people do have major health problems such as a heart attack have difficulty recovering and making appropriate health care choices, and there is a higher risk of death in heart attack patients who have major depression.
Of course, there are many other physical side effects of untreated depression as well including effects related to weight and general well-being.
One of the primary symptoms of depression is a disruption in sleep patterns, which can mean sleeping too much, sleeping too little or having problems sleeping at appropriate times. People who suffer from insomnia whether or not it’s related to depression tend to have a loss of energy and extreme fatigue, and when depression is untreated, these problems can get in the way of a person’s ability to function normally.
People with severe sleep disturbances may rely on drugs or alcohol to help them get rest, and even if sleep problems aren’t one of your specific symptoms, people with depression may be more likely to abuse substances as a way to self-medicate, which can complicate things even more.
Social and Lifestyle Issues
When you suffer from depression that’s not treated at all or is inadequately treated, it can lead to social isolation and the tendency to withdraw from things in life, whether that be relationships, your career, or school.
This can then have a domino impact on other areas of your life.
For example, you may be at a higher risk of experiencing a divorce if your depression is untreated.
Finally, if your depression goes without professional treatment, you may be at a higher risk of suicide, which is the second-leading cause of death for people in the age range of 15 to 34.
The best option for people who are suffering from depression is to get treatment as early as possible because the longer someone lives with the symptoms and potential complications of this mental health condition, the more decline they’re going to see in their quality of life.