Depressive disorders are often associated with other mental disorders. The most frequent companions are anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders as well as the abuse of alcohol or drugs.
Frequent accompanying mental illnesses are:
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorders
- Delusional states (psychoses)
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs
- eating disorders
- personality disorders
Anxiety and panic disorders
Depression can be accompanied by excessive insecurity, anxiety or panic attacks. It is not unusual for depression and anxiety to occur at the same time without a disease being sufficiently severe to be diagnosed as depression or anxiety disorder.
We speak of constraints when those affected suffer from recurring thoughts or actions and are unable to suppress them, even though they are perceived as unbearable, senseless or time-consuming.
Delusional states (psychoses)
Psychotic symptoms may be associated with severe depressive episodes. Occasionally, depressive beliefs can grow into an immutable reality for the person affected. This can lead to delusions, hallucinations or extremely slow reactions (so-called depressive stupor).
Abuse of alcohol or drugs
Depressive illness is associated with an increased risk of alcohol or drug addiction. Addictive substances are often used to find a way out of a depressed mood, but alcohol and drugs only make the situation worse.
People with depression should avoid alcohol and drugs at all costs. It is important that the attending doctor or psychologist knows about it in case of an alcohol or drug problem in order to be able to offer adequate help. Therefore, people should be very open with the doctor about their alcohol and drug habits.
Depression is often accompanied by eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia). Women are mostly affected by these concomitant diseases, but increasingly men also suffer from eating disorders. Here, too, an open approach to concomitant diseases is very important in order to be able to treat this disease appropriately.
Personality disorders are those disorders that make it difficult or impossible for people affected to behave and experience themselves in a flexible manner that is appropriate to the situation. There are many different forms. These illnesses, which are often very difficult to diagnose, are often accompanied by depression.
Depression can also be associated with physical illness. Often, the diagnosis of a physical illness already causes anxieties and worries.
In the case of chronic, i.e. permanent, physical diseases, depression is usually a reaction of the psyche to the continuous and constant strain on the affected person and the change in their living conditions.
Cancer even has its own scientific discipline, psychooncology, which investigates the effects of cancer on the psyche of those affected and develops support options. In about one third of all cancer patients, it can be assumed that a psychological illness occurs as a result of the heavy burden of the cancer, with depression being particularly frequent.
Cardiovascular diseases are also very often associated with psychological reactions (here the corresponding specialty is called psychocardiology). Those affected often feel very insecure and worried about their illness. Cardiac arrhythmia, resuscitation due to a heart attack or implantation of a pacemaker or defibrillator – these are all experiences and conditions that can in particular trigger anxious and depressive symptoms.
A stroke is not only associated with physical limitations, but also with severe psychological stress. A stroke often results in significant physical and mental changes, which requires enormous adaptation on the part of those affected. Many sufferers develop post-stroke depression (PSD) after a stroke.
Any of us who have ever had pain can guess what psychological stress chronic pain can be. The pain has enormously restricted the everyday lives of those affected and they are withdrawing more and more.
However, chronic pain patients become increasingly lonely and depressed as a result of the retreat. A kind of vicious circle can develop here: Depression has developed as a result of the pain, but the withdrawal and avoidance of activity and movement worsens the pain, which in turn intensifies the depression.
People with diabetes (diabetes) have a greater risk of developing depression. On the one hand, diabetes as a chronic disease greatly limits the lives of those affected and can therefore lead to depression (especially in people with diabetic damage, the risk of depression is increased). On the other hand, there are biochemical similarities between diabetes and depression: e.g. an altered release of various hormones such as cortisol, norepinephrine and serotonin.
Chronic allergic diseases such as asthma, neurodermatitis or hay fever can put so much strain on those affected and restrict their lifestyle that depression can develop as a result.