The Associations between Depression and Chronic Diseases

Depression is becoming a leading cause of disability with loss of work days globally. It is also one of the most important risk factors in many chronic diseases. Depression plays a critical role in the etiology, progression, and results of chronic illness (Chapman et al., 2005).

To provide a better care for depression and its associated diseases, it is necessary to examine the influences of depression on the morbidity and mortality in chronic disorders including cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and arthritis. Specifically, studies on the psychoneuroimmunology of depression may help elucidate the relevant behavioral factors and the underlying physiological mechanisms.

A meta-analysis on the psychoneuroimmunology of depression, inflammation, chronic diseases, diagnosis, and treatment methods such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) has identified the dynamic bidirectional associations between depression and specific chronic diseases (Voinov et al., 2013). The analyses of the commonly used psychotherapeutic and pharmacological methods for depression in chronic diseases have indicated the problem of disconnection between mental health and primary care.  This has been a regular problem in the US public health system. Such a problem has caused underdiagnosed and undertreated depressive disorders that are quite common with a high incidence. The problem is especially serious among the underserved groups.

Such findings refer to the urgent request for multivariate community-based studies and interventions (Chapman et al., 2005). Systematic preventive and therapeutic methods are needed to be applied by mental health and primary care practitioners to take a synergistic strategy for both depression and chronic diseases.


Chapman DP, Perry GS, Strine TW. The vital link between chronic disease and depressive disorders. Prev Chronic Dis. 2005 Jan;2(1):A14. Epub 2004 Dec 15.

Voinov B, Richie WD, Bailey RK. Depression and chronic diseases: it is time for a synergistic mental health and primary care approach. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2013;15(2). pii: PCC.12r01468. doi: 10.4088/PCC.12r01468. Epub 2013 Apr 4.

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