One of the most common problems that I see in private practice is depression, and it turns out that it can be worse than some chronic diseases, and it can make other conditions worse. Researchers writing in the British Medical Journal “Lancet” say depression can be more damaging to your everyday health than chronic diseases such as Arthritis, Diabetes, and Asthma. In addition, people suffering from a wide range of chronic diseases who also experience depression almost inevitably have a poorer prognosis for the chronic condition. The researchers conclude as a result impairs the overall health state more than other diseases. It also shows the importance of treating depression, which we are very capable of doing today with a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
The problem for many who suffer from depression is embarrassment. Patients are are afraid to tell their doctors about their bouts of depression. One of the mnemonics that I use in practice to diagnose depression is SIGECAPS.
- S stands for sleep. People who are depressed either are exhausted after a full 8 or 9 hours of sleep, or awake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back asleep.
- I stands for a lack of interest in pursuing enjoyable activities such as sex or going out to eat or other social functions.
- G stands for feeling guilty about one’s lot in life.
- E stands for low energy. Depressed people will feel tired all the time.
- C stands for concentration. People will have trouble focusing and it will take them double or triple the time to absorb new information.
- A stands for appetite and most of the time a person will go on a comfort eating binge and gain weight. However, about 10% of the time they will lose 5-10% of their body weight.
- P stands for psychomotor retardation, which is a fancy way of saying that people who know you well will ask if you if you’re moving in slow motion.
- S stands for feeling hopeless, worthless, and ultimately suicidal.
So, in conclusion, there is no reason to shy away from a condition that is completely understandable and, in most cases, completely treatable. If you don’t manage the depression then you will not be able to manage your chronic condition, because the depression is actually making it worse.
About the Author:
A highly successful Doctor with a practice in West Bloomfield, Michigan, Jim is also an award-winning broadcast journalist who has served as the “on-air” medical expert for various Detroit radio stations, including: WWJ Radio in Detroit (CBS owned and operated), WJBK-TV (Detroit’s FOX network affiliate) and WKBD in Detroit. He has over 20 years of experience in the medical media industry, including nine years as a national radio medical expert for CNN.
Dr. Jim Bragman has 30 years of experience in private practice, and is also a clinical teacher of medicine at the Wayne State and Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medical Schools.