Illness & depression

I've heard it said many times and I've read it many times, depression can cause illness. HHMMMM? I would wonder. I have my own personal theory about that and love to tell anyone who will listen.

I have lived with Crohn's for many years. It took several years to get it under control (for the most part) and keep it that way. I still have the occasional flareup but these days they are usually short lived instead of days/weeks long.

One thing I have noticed over the years is how often I suffer from depression.

When I was with my original GI, I sometimes noticed the depression. But truthfully at that time it was somewhat hard to tell as I seemed to be sick most of the time or on massive doses of prednisone. Of course each time I was getting to the end of my wean off of prednisone I was starting to feel sick again. When you walk around daily feeling like you will throw up any minute, have stomach cramping to rival both childbirth labors I've been through, run a constant temp of over 100, while trying to raise young children, work full time and keep up with the house work and everything involved with keeping the family running, it would probably be a little hard to notice some depression mixed in there.

I do remember once telling my GI that I thought I noticed my mood changing a lot right before I would have a really bad attack. Really bad, meant having most of the above symptoms plus severe diarrhea and vomiting for about twenty four hours. I would then go back to the "normal" feeling bad. He told me it was my cycles. I didn't believe him.

I eventually dropped this GI and just went through my PCP. Mostly what kept me feeling semi decent through this time was that I only ate soup. Five months and all I ate was soup. A couple of bites of solid food could set off an attack. I finally had a NP refer me to a new GI.

I fell in love. I had my initial visit and I believe, went home with a prescription, although I can't remember for sure. I know I went to my second appointment with a long list of questions and more questions depending on what answers I got to the original questions. I never had to ask one of them. Dr. Johnson walked in, greeted me and sat down and started talking. He addressed every question I had without me having to ask. He had a plan! And if the plan didn't work he had some backup plans. Wow, I was so impressed. It took several visits to get my medication regulated. And for the most part I've been doing okay for the last few years. I have checkups every few months.
All this has been leading up to my bouts of depression. While Dr. J and I were working on getting my meds regulated to the correct dosage I would quite often have depression. It would take me awhile to recognize the symptoms. At first I always found something to blame the depression on. But I began to notice that after being depressed for a few weeks or so, I would then start to show symptoms of a Crohn's attack coming. Sometimes my dosage would have to be change. Sometimes I'd need antibiotics to clear it up. Bet e-v-e-r-y time my Crohn's symptoms were successfully treated, my depression would disappear. How cool was that?

I think of other people that I've known that seemed to be suffering from depression. Usually it has been someone who had always seemed so positive and then one day it was as if their personality changed and they found everything to be depressing. I believe all were later diagnosed with a medical condition. I don't remember what each one had.

I firmly believe that depression is probably the first outward sign of a very real medical problem. I think since it shows up before any physical symptoms that it is thought that the depression brought on the illness. I personally believe that is backwards.

If I had any idea how to go about it, I'd find some grant money (you know, just pull it out of thin air) and do a very comprehensive study. I believe it could change the lives of many who suffer from depression.

I have watched my family suffer off and on from depression while battling Cushing's Disease. I have watched the depression lift as if by a miracle after surgery to treat the Cushing's. I am now seeing it return as there is a recurrence of Cushing's.

Anyone have any thoughts they'd like to share about depression? I'd welcome them.

2 comments:

Brenda said...

Judy, as I was reading this, little bells started to go off...and then I had a full-blown 'AHAA!!' moment. When my children were infants, I always knew when they were getting sick. Before the sniffles, before the dash to the bathroom, before the pathetic glazed-over fevered eyes...they were miserable! Cranky as all get out, and in retrospect, that crankiness often looked more like depression. At the time, I never said "I think my toddler is depressed", I said, "I think my toddler is coming down with something". If that's true for less traumatic childhood illnesses, how much MORE true is it for serious, life-threatening adult illnesses? Judy - I think you're a genius. It makes SUCH perfect sense!!

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