The effects of depression can be devastating in all areas of a person's life. The side effects of depression can often be seen at work, school and home as well as in the personal relationships of the patient. Diagnosis and treatment minimizes the effects of depression so early intervention is key. Without depression treatment, 40% of depressed individuals will still meet a diagnosis of depression after one year.
Depression often affects people during periods of change in their lives. The effects of depression on pregnancy include lower birthrates and preterm labor.1 Babies born to depressed mothers also show:2
- Increased irritability
- Less activity
- Less attentiveness
- Fewer facial expressions
The most serious effect of depression is a suicide attempt or completion. Up to 15% of people with affective disorders, like depression, commit suicide.
Physical Effects of Depression
The physical effects of depression impact the brain, heart and other parts of the body. Research shows that depression negatively affects the brain. A decrease in brain volume is one of the most disturbing side effects of depression. Fortunately, antidepressants appear to be able to reverse this brain volume loss.3
Depression and pain are also inter-related. You can read more about the pain of depression here.
Long-term depression is also known to negatively impact the heart. Depression causes inappropriate release of adrenaline which, over time, damages the cardiovascular system. An increase in artery and blood vessel stress are further health effects of depression. This can increase the risk of blood clots and heart attack.4
The effects of depression cause an overall increase in mortality, where those with depression may die 25 years sooner than the average person. This is thought to be due to both the physical and social side effects of depression.
Social Effects of Depression
In addition to the health effects of depression, patients experience social effects as well. The social effects of depression change how a person functions in the world and their relationship with others. Social effects of depression include:
- Substance use and abuse
- Social and family withdrawal
- Decreased performance at work or school