Monday, June 6, 2011

What kind of Physical Problems can "mimic" Depression and Anxiety?

People who have depression may not present to the Doctor with depression.  They often presents with a physical complaint like tiredness, fatigue, tension headaches, aches and pains or just feeling sick.

It is important for your Doctor to take a thorough history and do some investigations to rule out any physical problems that may cause these same symptoms.

Things to rule out are:

1 Anaemia i.e. low red blood cells that carry the oxygen around the body
2 Iron deficiency especially in women with heavy periods
3 B12 deficiency especially in people who do not eat a lot of meat or has Pernicious Anaemia.  B12 are important in nerve function.  Consider checking for folate as well.
4 Low cortisol in Addison's Disease (rare but can be very dangerous)
5 Neurological disease like stroke, MS, or even a brain tumour.
6 Hypothyroidism i.e. low thyroid.  This can cause weight gain, tiredness, and it can exacerbate depression and anxiety
7 Hyperthyroidism i.e. high thyroid.  This can cause weight loss, tremors, and it can exacerbate anxiety and depression
8 Systemic diseases like renal failure, liver problems, autoimmune disease or diabetes
9 Low Testestorone in men can make them feel tired and exacerbate depression
10 Sleep apnea can make you feel very tired, and it can exacerbate depression and anxiety.  It is often underdiagnosed.  To rule it out, your Doctor will take thorough history, examine you, and may order  a sleep study.  The main symptoms here is daytime sleepiness, tiredness, sleeping behind the wheel, and snoring.
11 Menopause or perimenopause. This may require a blood test

I encourage you to speak to your Doctor early if you have the above symptoms.

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