5 Medical Conditions That Can Cause Depression (and How to Know If You Have Them)

Millions of Americans currently live with depression. Many of them don’t realize that their symptoms could be the result of a physical illness.

It’s not clear whether or not depression is the main cause of certain diseases. But experts do know that physical illnesses often cause mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Here are a few medical conditions that can increase your depression risk — and how to know if you should see a doctor.

Lyme disease

Ticks carrying Lyme disease-causing bacteria can infect unsuspecting individuals with one bite. Some reports have noted that patients with Lyme disease or chronic Lyme disease are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Eary symptoms of Lyme disease often mimic the flu. This fever and fatigue are often accompanied by joint pain and a circular or bullseye-shaped rash at the bite site. Though the condition is treatable, it is also preventable.

Heart disease

Heart disease

Heart disease | Evryka23/iStock/Getty Images

Because it often develops over time without noticeable symptoms, most people aren’t diagnosed with heart disease until they survive a heart attack. If the disease has progressed significantly by this point, treatments such as major surgery can take a toll on your mental health. Stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental and physical ailments.

You might not know you have it until your health is in serious danger. But you can determine your risk of heart disease based on a few factors. Older adults and those with a family history of heart problems are more likely to develop it. Poor diet and physical inactivity are also reliable predictors of heart disease.

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

It’s not uncommon for people living with MS — whether newly diagnosed or in more advanced stages — to go through severe emotional changes. The stress and anxiety that accompany such a debilitating illness often lead to issues such as depression, insomnia, and intense anger.

Symptoms of MS include fatigue, vertigo, bowel or bladder problems, chronic pain, and sudden emotional changes such as mood swings or irritability.


Living with an underactive thyroid can lead to depression symptoms in adults. The disorder affects your mood because it affects the level of thyroid hormone in your blood. Abnormal levels can have mild to severe psychological consequences depending on the severity of the disorder.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain (or loss), bowel movement changes, unusual changes in your menstrual cycle, and an increased sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures.

Chronic fatigue syndrome


Depression | Monkeybusinessimages/ iStock/Getty Images Plus

People living with chronic fatigue face a higher risk of depression. The continuous exhaustion that comes with the condition — and other health issues that people with chronic fatigue often also live with — can make even getting out of bed seem impossible.

It’s normal to feel tired after a long day or get a headache when dealing with a stressful situation. But individuals living with chronic fatigue experience exhaustion, pain, and weakness for days or more at a time without relief. These symptoms are similar to depression, but it’s possible to have both conditions simultaneously.

Chronic pain has also been shown to increase a person’s risk of depression. Experiencing pain without a known cause or cure can lead to stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression and hopelessness.

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