What medical conditions are associated with depression?

There are a number of conditions that can cause depression, including thyroid disease, pancreatic cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. In this video, I will describe the illnesses associated with depression.
Many general (i.e., other than psychiatric) medical conditions are linked to higher rates of depression. Some conditions may actually cause depression by inducing structural brain damage, altering neurotransmitter mechanisms or acting as a stressful life event that triggers physiological changes.

The following conditions are thought to be potential causes of depressive symptoms.

Endocrine diseases:
  • Addison's disease
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • hyperprolactinaemia
  • thyroid disorders: hypothyroidism, thyrotoxicosis, hyperparathyroidism
Infectious diseases:
  • encephalitis
  • hepatitis
  • influenza
  • mononucleosis
Neurological diseases:
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • brain tumors
  • epilepsy
  • head injury
  • Huntington's chorea
  • multiple sclerosis
  • normal pressure hydrocephalus
  • Parkinson's disease
  • stroke
Other diseases:
  • AIDS
  • folate deficiency
  • lung cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • pernicious anemia
  • systemic lupus erythematosus

Celeste Robb-Nicholson
Internal Medicine
It's important to note that depression is often associated with certain medical conditions. It can be precipitated by a stroke, heart attack, or cancer, or by the use of some medications. Because depression can be responsible for memory loss or for difficulty in reasoning, it is often mistakenly identified in older women as dementia or Alzheimer's disease. It can also coexist with another mental illness -- underlying or stemming from substance abuse or addiction, an eating disorder, or an anxiety disorder. In such cases, the clinician usually identifies one disorder as the "primary" condition and treats it first.

Continue Learning about Depression

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.