Depression and Comorbid Disorders

When depression occurs alongside another unrelated disease, psychological or physical, it is referred to as comorbid depression.

Dealing with Depression and Disease 

Comorbidity is common with depressive disorders such as major depression, anxiety, bipolar disease or post-traumatic stress disorder. Depression also coexists with conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. 

Comorbid MDD and Anxiety 

When major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety occur together, the functionality of a person is severely affected. According to a research paper published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the risk of suicide in patients suffering from MDD is estimated to be 7.9%. However, when present with comorbid anxiety, the risk increased to 19.8%. This statistic alone is enough to show how important it becomes to seek treatment when both the conditions manifest themselves together. Another study indicates that depression and anxiety comorbidity may lead to a slower rate of recovery and a higher rate of relapse. 

Comorbid Depression and Schizophrenia 

Many people who have schizophrenia also experience comorbid depression. However, there is much debate on whether this can be classified as comorbidity or whether depressive symptoms are just part of the overall symptom map of schizophrenia. 

Comorbid Depression and Heart Disease 

There is a lot of speculation about the link between heart disease and depression. It is thought that depressive symptoms might actually increase the risk for developing coronary heart disease more than passive smoking, though less than active smoking. SSRIs are now considered safe in treating comorbid depression in people who have also developed heart disease. 

Comorbid Depression and Diabetes Mellitus 

Although the relationship between depression and diabetes mellitus is not as pronounced as that with heart disease, 10 – 20% of people who have diabetes suffer from depression; the percentage is higherif they have a history of depression prior to the development of diabetes. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be a very helpful managing tool in this case. 

Whichever disease manifests itself along with depression, it is very important that you seek immediate treatment for both conditions. Many healthcare providers may recommend a mix of antidepressants and psychotherapy to combat depression. In the case that depression is comorbid with a physical illness, other medications may also be prescribed to treat the illness. 

By: Jourdan Rombough