Depression can be a debilitating condition, and for some people, the more cases of physical disease they have, the higher the risk of depression. New research from iPSYCH has found that patients who have been treated for a physical disease have an increased risk of depression requiring hospitalization.
According to iPSYCH, if the patient has been treated for multiple physical diseases, the risk of being hospitalized with depression is increased by up to 69%. Age was also found to be a factor, as the more physical diseases that patients under 65 years have, the greater the risk of hospitalization with depression.
“This may possibly be explained by a large number of physical diseases at a relatively young age being psychologically stressful, whereas having several diseases is ‘to be expected’ when you’re older,” says study author, Ole Köhler-Forsberg.
This study is the first of its kind to examine the correlation in a whole population between physical disease and depression diagnosis. Researchers emphasize how much mental and physical health are interrelated and how they should be treated as such.
The study included almost 118,000 people who were diagnosed with depression for the first time at a Danish psychiatric hospital during the period 1996–2015. Data from the participants were analyzed, including any hospital-based diagnoses of physical diseases before the depression diagnosis since 1977. Information about the patient’s use of medicine for physical disease in the year prior to the depression diagnosis was also recorded.
Researchers found that patients who were treated for physical disease and who redeemed a prescription for medicine in the year before their depression had a reduced risk of being hospitalized for the depression.
“This may mean that the treatment of physical diseases can also have a better effect on the course of a depression, but it may also be explained by the fact that the patient is better at following their antidepressant treatment or that their own doctor is already more aware of the patient,” explains Christiane Gasse, who contributed to the study.
Researchers believe that this study expands the knowledge of health care providers by not only focusing on a specific disease by including all physical diseases. It offers a suggestion for physicians to thoroughly examine and treat people with depression for possible physical diseases.
This study adds to the mounting evidence of how biological, genetic, psychological, and lifestyle factors play a role and increase the risk of suffering from both physical disease and depression. Researchers stress that it is essential to focus on the mental health of people with chronic physical diseases so they can possibly add preventative measures to reduce the risk of hospitalization due to depression.