New research has shown that long term depression can be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease on the same risk level as smoking. It can lead to diabetes, strokes, obesity, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks.
There are two main reasons as to why depression can result in instances like the ones described above. The first is that when suffering from depression, the body is more prone to inflammation, or swelling, which often leads to a slippery slope known as the “inflammatory cascade”. This increase in inflammation puts the body at an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
There is also the fact that depression often leads to isolation This event increases the risk of a lack of proper exercise, unhealthy eating habits, and an unhealthy amount of sleep. All of which are risk factors for obesity, which increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.
As a result, the Collaborative Care Model, a system in which psychiatrists, primary care physicians, specialists, and other therapists all work together as one team, has become increasingly popular in the mental health community. This change has three main impacts.
1.The use of pharmacology to help with patients’ symptoms of their depression is now both more acceptable and accessible. By treating patients’ symptoms as venomous to the body, psychiatrists now view it as crucial that they treat these symptoms swiftly. It has become a top priority that a patient is treated using the correct medication the first time. Testing can now be done to ensure this response happens by simply using a cheek swab to match the patient to their ideal medication, ensuring that their treatment will be effective.
2. Protecting against burnout, which is very often associated with depression has now become a top priority of therapy treatment. By treating burnout as its issue through therapy as well as methods including exercise, mental health professionals can now lessen the release of stress hormones such as cortisol that harm the heart
3. Psychiatrists are now more informed and ready to teach their patients about the cardiovascular risk that their symptoms pose. By educating them on how they are in danger and how by improving their symptoms they are protecting themselves, the hope is that the patient will be more willing to work toward improvement.
The most effective way to deal with these risks is for therapists and their patients to have long term and short term goals. By meeting both of these goals, the patient will be placed at a much lower risk for cardiovascular damage.
The short term goal, which should be met within a dozen sessions, will be to ease the patient’s depression and their symptoms and eventually rid the patient of their symptoms entirely. By doing so, the therapist is not only helping the patient by ridding them of their oppressive symptoms and allowing them to live their life as they wish to but is also eliminating the added cardiovascular risk factor that the patient is faced with.
The long term goal is to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of Americans year after year. By helping the patient lower their risk, you may be helping patients add years onto their life.
The role that psychiatrists are now being asked to play as a wellness coach is fairly new to the community. In fact, most psychiatrists have isolated themselves from the rest of the medical community, as they are often seen as incredibly private with their patients’ information, refusing to share their notes with any other medical professionals. This however needs to change in order to benefit patients. By working together and sharing information between psychiatrists, personal care physicians, and other specialists, a patient’s risk for cardiovascular disease can significantly lower. So if you are suffering from depression, make sure that your doctors are all communicating, as it may be crucial to your cardiovascular health. You should also consider visiting the people over at the TMS Advantage, as their FDA approved treatment methods have shown to yield incredible results for people suffering from depression and anxiety.
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