Pancreatitis and Depression

Written by sam williams
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In the back of your abdominal region is an elongated, soft gland that produces enzymes that help in the digestion of carbohydrates, fat and protein. This is your pancreas. Your pancreas also produces bicarbonate, which keeps the acids in your stomach from burning through. It also regulates the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Several deficiencies in the operation of the pancreas could cause tremendous health problems. One well-known deficiency is pancreatitis.

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Defining Pancreatitis

MayoClinic defines pancreatitis as "any inflammation of the pancreas." When these inflammations are frequent, they can cause irreparable damage to the pancreas, resulting in chronic pancreatitis. Over time, these attacks can result in digestive enzymes leaking out onto the pancreas. These loose enzymes may try to digest the pancreas and cause more damage. As a result, a cycle of pancreas malfunctions begins and can lead to insulin insufficiency, which results in diabetes.

Causes

According to eMedicine Health, the two main causes of pancreatitis are alcohol abuse and gallstones. These account for 80 to 90 per cent of all cases. After five to seven years of alcohol abuse, the person has already experienced acute attacks of pancreatitis knowingly or unknowingly. Gallstones build up and block the pancreatic ducts and trap digestive enzymes inside the pancreas. Certain medications, high fat diets and hereditary traits can also lead to pancreatitis.

Defining Depression

Depression is an emotional and psychological problem that can manifest itself into physical maladies if not monitored. WebMD reports that depressed people often feel guilty and worthless, show no interest in everyday activities and often feel agitated or restless. People who are depressed can experience significant weight loss and have difficulty concentrating. The opposite can also occur. Depressed people can develop habits of overeating and gain significant weight. The worst cases of depression have resulted in suicide attempts.

Pancreatitis and Depression

Pancreatitis, as with many other diseases, can cause depression. Because the body is failing to absorb the calories it needs, the person starts to experience low energy levels. With less energy, the person feels less accomplished. The feelings of worthlessness mount and lead to deeper depression. The depression could be causing a reduced appetite, which will worsen the weight loss that pancreatitis often causes. WebMD states, "Depression caused by chronic disease often aggravates the condition, especially if the illness causes pain and fatigue, or limits a person's ability to interact with others."

Treatment

Intravenous fluids and pain medication can be prescribed by a doctor to treat pancreatitis. If the pancreatitis becomes severe, it can damage the lungs, kidneys and heart, and patients are often admitted into intensive care to be monitored by doctors. In extreme cases, surgery can be performed to remove damaged pancreatic tissue.

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