Frequently Asked Questions

6. What other conditions may co-exist with depression?

Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Depression can make these conditions worse and vice versa. Sometimes medications taken for these physical illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression. A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy.

Because many older adults face these illnesses along with various social and economic difficulties, some health care professionals may wrongly conclude that these problems are the cause of the depression -- an opinion often shared by patients themselves.

All these factors can cause depression to go undiagnosed or untreated in older people. Yet, treating the depression will help an older adult better manage other conditions he or she may have.