Health Alert | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Medical Minute 11-16: Depression and More

By: Ramin Khalili Email
By: Ramin Khalili Email

Three women - three battles with depression. All suffering in silence.

"I couldn't function, I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I lost a tremendous amount of weight," said Gina Adkins.

"I had to make a rational decision whether or not to go home to these two or drive my car off the road," said Lauren Machos.

"I was on three different kinds of depression meds at one point," said Alison Parker.

Depression isn't just about your mood any more: New studies show it might lead to disease, too.

"We found that the number of times that you've had elevated depressive symptoms increases your risk of developing dementia," said Vonetta Dotson, Ph.D., University of Florida.

The University of Florida's Vonetta Dotson says a bout with depression is kinda like a blow to head. She found one single episode ups your risk of dementia by 87-percent. Two or more depressive episodes: The risk skyrockets to 200 percent.

"Chronic stress or depression can be associated with damage to the hippocampus, we also know that the hippocampus is implicated in dementia," said Vonetta Dotson, Ph.D.

Osteoporosis is also linked to depression. One study found women with chronic stress and depression developed bone loss. And one-third of cancer patients surveyed at diagnosis say they've been previously depressed.

As for your heart: A new study shows depression may boost chest inflammation.

"Treatment is really important and might affect their cognitive functioning down the road and I think that's new information that not everyone is aware of," said Vonetta Dotson, Ph.D.

That means taking care of both mind and body is key.

"I needed to go in and get some help," said Lauren Machos.

And that help may lead to a healthier, longer life.

Vonetta M. Dotson, Ph.D.Dept. of Clinical and Health Psychology University of Floridavonetta@phhp.ufl.edu


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