The impact on the health of an untreated depressed patient is so serious that its effects can be psychological and physical if it is left untreated. These potential complications of depression result in affecting every aspect of the patient’s life.

Depression is a distressing condition that can rob you of the ability to enjoy life. It is a leading cause of disability, absence from work, disturbed relationships, and sickness.

Clinical depression also has an impact on the family members, relatives, and friends of the depressed person. It can be disastrous and the need for prompt treatment cannot be overstressed.

Untreated, this mental disorder proceeds to become more severe and the chances of full recovery then become almost impossible. There are various types of depression and according to its severity, complications come into effect.

The complications of depression can be short-term and long-term.

Short-term and long-term effects

Short-term complications include loss of appetite, weight changes, and other physical symptoms. Insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping too much) are some other problems that can make you feel fatigued and lethargic.

Long-term complications include malnutrition due to not eating enough or obesity from eating too much. Short-term memory loss is another effect, which develops over the long term.

Another long-term complication of severe depression is the tendency to commit suicide. Most of the suicides committed are due to untreated severe clinical depression.

Complications of Depression

Depression is considered a medical disease because of its symptoms, which besides being emotional, also manifest physically. The complications too, are mental as well as physical and are explained below.


Other mental disorders

Anxiety is often precipitated by untreated and long-lasting depression and similarly, anxiety can also precipitate depression.

There is a very high tendency for an untreated depressed person to commit suicide.

Health complications

Depression can give rise to other health conditions:

  • The depressed person often suffers from erectile dysfunction.
  • Depression can complicate existing heart conditions or cancer.
  • People with depression are at a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • Research indicates a link between untreated depression and heart disease especially arrhythmias. The association of both these conditions results in the unsatisfactory success of treatment and poor prognosis of both these conditions.
  • Depression has a negative impact on the immune system. A weakened immune system can give colds, flu, and other infectious diseases.

Sleep complications associated with depression

Depression can cause insomnia and sleep deprivation, which can make depression worse. Sleep deprivation causes diminished energy levels, a sad mood, and a diminished clarity of thinking.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a highly prevalent condition in the general population. Depression and sleep disorders are seen to occur at a higher rate in patients with diabetes.

Social impact

Besides affecting your life, depression has an adverse effect on your family and others. Such problems include:

  • Problems with colleagues at school or work
  • Frequent conflicts with family members
  • Difficulties in maintaining relationships with almost everyone
  • Tendency to become a social outcast

How depression affects you physically

Depression complications go much beyond affecting you mentally. It also has undesirable effects on your body.

These are a few of the most common physical complications of depression:

  • Increased aches and pains in the body, which occur in about two-thirds of those with depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss of libido
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of deep sleep, or too much of it

Complications of depression in elderly

Besides the above-explained complications, the most common impact that is serious and life-threatening in the elderly is suicide.

In elderly people, the apprehension of nearing death has a tremendous impact on the mental state of the already weakened mind.

The suicide rate in the age group of 65 years and older is the highest among all age groups.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2007 the rate of suicide in this age group was 14.3 deaths per 100,000.

According to the depression statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate in those 85 years and older is twice the national average; in men 75 years and older it is 36 per 100,000.

The risk of suicides in men increases with age while in women it peaks at middle age and then declines.

According to EverydayHealth, 66% of suicides are a result of untreated severe depression.

Prompt treatment helps

Knowing the impact of depression will only make you feel the importance of prompt treatment, should you or anyone you know shows signs of developing depression.

As seen above, the effects of untreated depression produce dangers, which also extend to producing a dangerous heart condition and probable suicidal death.

Prompt and religiously followed treatment can save you from all these consequences.