The battle to overcome depression can sometimes take many months or even years, and if left untreated the illness can have long term and far-reaching effects. Although most people with depression do not seek medical help, it’s strongly advisable to do so in order to prevent the condition spiralling out of control. Quality of life in general can be adversely affected, with problems and tensions arising at home, work, and in your personal and social relationships.2
If you do not treat depression, the illness can have some long term physical effects, such as chronic tension headaches, hyperventilation, high blood pressure, ulcers, addictions and other problems. Some people feel that they have become ‘burned out,’ or they develop psychosomatic illnesses (physical diseases without biological causes).
Depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the UK and continues to cause people to miss days off work or to perform at a lower level than normal. At work they may be slow and less responsive, uncaring about output or performance and could be more likely to make mistakes.
Unless your family are experienced with the illness or very good at understanding depression, your family or home life can be adversely affected by your condition. People who are depressed tend to lack interest in family activities and become less concerned with the people around them. Their focus turns inwards and they can find it difficult to express affection for their loved ones. They may experience a marked decrease in sexual desire and feel unable to communicate properly with anyone; all of which can lead to marital stresses and strains.
If you have depression and it is left untreated it can have a negative impact on your children. Not only do they feel the lack of attention and care but they see their parent decline and can get anxious for their health. Children of depressed parents are more likely to develop behavioural and emotional problems than of non-depressed parents.7
The more severe the illness the more severe the long term effects, so it’s very important to get depression treatment before the problem develops further. Early intervention is often the key to successful treatment and the prevention of complications.