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Metabolic Syndrome: A Risk for Depression

Everyone feels a little down now and then. When you have metabolic syndrome, it’s also common to feel down about your health concerns once in a while. But when the mood doesn't go away, it could be a sign of depression. If left untreated, depression can make it hard to function at home, work, or school. Often the same things can be at the root of both metabolic syndrome and depression. These include stress, inflammation, and certain hormone imbalances. Fortunately, treatment is available.

The link between metabolic syndrome and depression goes both ways. Managing different health problems can cause stress. And stress can trigger depression in certain people. Being depressed can drain your energy and motivation. This makes it harder for you to take good care of yourself. In turn, this may cause your physical condition to get worse. Having more visceral fat or an apple-shaped body has been linked to metabolic syndrome. And research shows that people with these 2 things are also more likely to have depression. Addressing some of the parts of metabolic syndrome has also been shown to lead to better management of depression. 

Know the warning signs

Talk with your healthcare provider if you have several of these signs of depression and they last for more than a few weeks:

  • Ongoing feelings of sadness, emptiness, or anxiety

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in the activities you once enjoyed

  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness

  • Tiredness or lack of energy

  • Restlessness or being grouchy (irritable)

  • Eating more or less than normal

  • Sleeping too much or too little

  • Trouble thinking clearly or making decisions

  • Unexplained aches, pains, or digestive problems

  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Understand your choices

If you see any of these signs in yourself, it’s important to take action. Depression is a real illness that affects not only your brain, but also your whole body. You can seek treatment that helps you feel better. The main treatment choices are medicines and talk therapy (psychotherapy). They may be used alone or together. Here's how they can help:

  • Medicines to treat depression (antidepressants). These may be prescribed to correct imbalances in brain chemicals that play a role in maintaining moods. There are several types of antidepressants that can help improve mood, sleep, appetite, and focus. Antidepressants may start helping in a week or two. But you might not feel the full effects for 2 to 3 months. Some antidepressants may lead to weight gain. But a healthy lifestyle can help control that.

  • Talk therapy. This helps change patterns in thoughts, behaviors, and relationships that may help lead to depression. Homework is sometimes given. This can help you keep working on problems between therapy sessions. As with medicine, getting better takes time. Many people with depression see major improvement after just 10 to 15 sessions.

  • Physical activity. Regular physical activity and exercise helps with relieving depression.

Reach out for help

If you're feeling down and can't seem to feel better, talk with your healthcare provider. Symptoms of depression can sometimes be due to a health condition, such as a thyroid disorder. They can also be a side effect of some medicines. A health checkup can help find exactly what’s causing your symptoms. If depression is the cause, your healthcare provider can help you find the right treatment.

If you’re having trouble getting help on your own, talk with a trusted family member or friend. Chances are good that they already know something is wrong and want to help. Don’t try to handle things on your own. Left untreated, depression can hang around for weeks, months, or even years. But with treatment, you can begin to slowly feel better. The sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you’ll feel better.

Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2018
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