Why you stop thinking about your teeth when you have depression

We all have up and down periods in our lives. Especially this time of year when everything is busier and people are tired, often we can find ourselves feeling tired, stressed or even depressed. When you feel a nagging feeling of hopelessness, despair and sadness, be sure to check in with yourself. Usually these feelings go away but if they are lingering, you may have depression. It is important you seek help as depression can not only take its toll on your mental health, but also your physical health, especially your oral health. Many studies show that depression can have effects that extend into different facets of your physical health. Read on to find out more about depression and the link it has with oral health. Need a caring family dentist? Call Riverstone Family Dental on 8678 3538.

What is depression?

One in six people will experience depression in their lifetime. It usually manifests during the late teens to mid-20s. This is why I have partnered with Headspace Mount Druitt who look after youth with mental health issues. Also, did you know one third of women will experience a major depression in their life? More support for postnatal depression is something I would like to see as well.

Major depressive disorder is the medical term for depression. It is a serious medical illness that negatively affects a person’s feelings, thoughts, and actions. If left untreated, it can drastically reduce your quality of life and you may find it hard to go to work, socialise and do daily activities.

Depression is when you have intense feelings of sadness over a long time. Often you cannot describe or pinpoint why you feel sad and nothing you do makes it any better. It is different to grief which is a feeling of sadness over a death or an end of a relationship.

My opinion is that in an age of social media, FOMO and constant comparisons, we will see a steady increase in depression due to social isolation and a feeling of ‘not being good enough’. One of the most amazing things that could happen to society is an introduction of a mental health curriculum at school or for parents to foster healthy relationships with their kids and instil self-esteem and confidence from a young age. But even then, depression really can weave its way into anyone’s life and that’s where reaching out for support is critical. Equally, it is important you recognise if someone you know is showing signs of depression. Try and reach out to them and offer to listen.

What are the types of depression?

Depression manifests and affects people in different ways. It has various types that range from mild to severe. Major depression can be further categorised as melancholia, psychotic, and antenatal or postnatal depression. Melancholia is a severe form of depression which results in a complete loss of interest and pleasure in everything. Psychosis and loss of touch with reality is known as psychotic depression. Antenatal and postnatal depression affect women during and after pregnancy. Statistics state 10% of mothers experience antenatal and postnatal depression, however, it could be higher.

What are the symptoms of depression?

There is no one cause for depression. Life events especially being abused, overworked, or unemployed for a long period can predispose you to developing depression. Personal factors such as family history, your personality, whether you use alcohol and drugs, and serious medical conditions can act as triggers. Research in the field of depression has mapped out differences in certain chemicals in the brain in people with depression.

Having a combination of these symptoms lasting for two weeks can be a sign of depression:

  • feeling sad
  • lack of interest in hobbies
  • changes in appetite
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • fatigue
  • feeling worthless or guilty
  • suicidal thoughts
  • trouble focusing and making decisions

Can depression be treated?

Yes, it can.

Common forms of treatment start with medication or psychotherapy. Increasing your water intake is important when starting these new medications. Cognitive behavioural therapy and exercise have been shown to be extremely helpful. When diagnosing depression, it is important to see your medical doctor to rule out any vitamin and mineral deficiencies or health conditions such as an underactive thyroid.

How does it affect your oral and overall health?

Did you know depression makes you more likely to die from a heart attack? The mind-body link is enormous, your physical health has so much to do with what is happening with your mental health. Studies have shown that your mood, stress, depression and anxiety can control how much cortisol, endorphins, adrenaline and many other hormones are regulated in your body. This has an effect on how much fat you store and how you combat inflammation and repair in your body. A weakened immune system will make you more vulnerable to the common cold and even cardiovascular diseases.

Dental health also deteriorates when you have depression. You find that you lose interest in oral hygiene and sometimes crave really sweet foods and drinks. People suffering with depression commonly have a decreased saliva flow, dry mouth and rampant dental decay. Due to the decreased ability to combat inflammation, depression can also affect your gums and make you more likely to suffer from gum disease, bad breath and infections.

I hope you have found this blog insightful.  Remember it is important to recognise the signs of depression in yourself and others. Check in with yourself and others and look after your oral health. If you need help with your teeth and gums, call Riverstone Family Dental on 8678 3538. We can also put you in touch with Headspace Mount Druitt or caring local doctors.


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