When Strong Emotions Are Related To A Medical Condition

When Emotions Are Related To A Medical Condition

Emotional and physical health are connected. For example, we know that the symptoms of anxiety and depression are common in many medical conditions. Due to the overlap, these symptoms may stem from an undiagnosed medical condition. In other situations, these symptoms may be driven or even "masked" by known medical conditions.

Although there are many conditions that are associated with anxiety or depression symptoms, some are more common than others. A few are discussed below.

Thyroid Disorders

Hypothyroidism refers to an underactive thyroid gland - when too little thyroid hormone is produced. It is probably the best-known medical condition associated with depressive symptoms. Symptoms are generally related to slowed body processes including fatigue, weight gain, irritability, and sadness.

Having an overactive thyroid gland, known as hyperthyroidism, can also cause distressing symptoms such as anxiety, tremors, heart palpitations and unintended weight loss.

Both of these require medical treatments to return thyroid hormone to normal levels.

Sleep Disorders

Symptoms of poor sleep and insomnia are similar to those of depression and anxiety - you may feel fatigued, depressed, or irritable; worry about sleep, or have trouble concentrating. Goodpath can provide help for those with trouble sleeping.

Taking Medication

Mood symptoms may be side effects of some prescription medications and supplements. This varies from person to person. It may occur if you take them for a long time, at a high dose, or abruptly stop them.

There is a long list of medications with anxiety/depression side effects (e.g. medications for rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, seizure disorders, etc.). Talk with your doctor if you have questions about your prescribed medications. 

Even some medication for anxiety or depression may cause similar side effects.

Two examples: 

  1. When starting to take an antidepressant medication, there is a risk that your depression may worsen. If this occurs, contact your doctor.

  2. If a person stops taking a benzodiazepine prescription without following careful instructions, anxiety, as well as other symptoms, usually occurs.

The second example is known as drug withdrawal - when a substance is quickly stopped in a person whose body has gotten used to having the drug in their system. Symptoms differ based on the drug as well as many other factors. Some withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous or life-threatening.

Chronic Illnesses

Dealing with chronic (long-term) illnesses, like heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and cancer is life-changing and stressful. The time of diagnosis may be a particularly challenging time.

The conditions may be even more stressful if they are not well-managed or if complications develop. Both anxiety and depression also make self-care more difficult. 

Symptoms of anxiety and depression are common with chronic conditions. It may be difficult to determine if symptoms are related to the illness vs. anxiety or depression (e.g. Is your trouble breathing related to uncontrolled asthma? Anxiety? Both?). 

Neurological Conditions

Anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems are also common in people with neurological or nervous system-related conditions such as:

Pain Conditions

The pain-depression-stress cycle helps to explain the relationship between painful chronic conditions and emotional well-being. 

With pain, you become less active. This may lead to feeling depressed, anxious, etc. From there you may withdraw and avoid activity. This then leads to increased stress, decreased ability to function, and worsening pain.

Here's an example of someone with chronic neck pain.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrients are necessary for good health. Low levels of certain ones are associated with anxiety and depression. The most common ones are:

Perimenopause/Menopause

Perimenopause refers to the years leading up to menopause, while menopause is the time when women no longer menstruate. Anxiety and depression symptoms are common among perimenopausal/menopausal women. They’re linked to decreased hormone levels, which causes other body changes as well (e.g. hot flashes, night sweats). There are some situations in which hormone replacement therapy may be needed to address these symptoms.

Goodpath Care

Your Goodpath coach is available to answer any questions you may have about your program. If you think a medical condition may be related to your symptoms, please speak to your doctor.