How does depression affect someone's physical health and well-being?

Answered by: Philip Muskin

Depression may have a negative effect on the immune system, may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and may influence the risk of developing diabetes. Patients with depression often do not comply with diets, and may have difficulty in adhering to the medical plan to treat their diabetes.

Untreated depression has been shown to dramatically increase the risk of dying after a heart attack. For this reason, patients who have heart attacks and are depressed should speak to their cardiologists.

Cardiologists should assess depression as part of the follow up when patients are discharged from the hospital.

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Philip Muskin, M.D.
Chief: Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry 

Dr. Muskinís research and publications include mood disorders and AIDS, the psychodynamics of the failure of empathy towards patients with AIDS, panic disorder, treatment of anxiety and depression in medically ill patients, maladaptive denial of physical illness, personality disorders in the primary care setting, the role of religiosity in patientsí decisions regarding do-not-resuscitate status, the psychodynamics of physician-assisted suicide, and the decision making capacity of medically ill patients.

He is the editor of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Psychiatry, pub...
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