The link between depression and other mental health issues has been well-established.

Clinical depression is more prevalent in people who suffer from other mental health problems like anxiety disorders, panic disorders, generalised anxiety disorders and social phobias.

A new study establishes a link between depression and yet another mental health problem – schizophrenia.

Depression – Prevalent Among First-Episode Schizophrenia Sufferers

Meta-analysis published in the Psychological Medicine journal in November 2019 suggests there’s a link between first-episode schizophrenia (FES) and depression.

Researchers from University of Melbourne in Australia went through extensive literature about first-episode schizophrenia – a stage characterised by the development of frank psychotic symptoms. To perform the analysis, the researchers ranked depressive symptoms among those experiencing FES.

The final cohort consisted of 40 studies that examined the condition of 401 participants. In seven of the studies, the prevalence of depressive disorders among FES patients was26 per cent. In 11 studies, the prevalence went up to 43.9 per cent.

It’s also interesting to point out that the meta-analysis suggests a greater severity of the depressive symptoms in patients who experienced a greater severity of schizophrenia symptoms.

Schizophrenia and Depression: A Well-Established Link

This extensive meta-analysis isn’t the first one to highlight the link between schizophrenia and depression.

People who are genetically at a higher risk of schizophrenia are also predisposed to experiencing depressive episodes, prior studies have established.

Researchers from University of Edinburgh tried to establish the link due to the fact that currently, there are no tests for the diagnosis of depression. At the same time, the condition is estimated to affect about one in five people. establishing a link between depression and other mental health conditions could provide for better assistance and adequate treatment.

Schizophrenia is already known to share some factors with depression. Two of those include neuroticism and low mood/apathy. Upon examination of genetic samples, researchers from the University of Edinburgh concluded that people with schizophrenia have genetic factors linked to depression and vice versa.

According to lead researcher Heather Whalley, clinical depression is a seriously debilitating condition that we still know very little about. Her team concluded there seems to be a distinct type of depression that is genetically based on the risk of schizophrenia.

Knowing more about the causes of different forms of depression is essential for the development of tailored, effective treatment solutions. More precise diagnostic methods could also be developed on the basis of such research.

In 2015, Harvard Medical Health clinicians went a step further in their attempts to establish a link between clinical depression and other mental health problems.

According to them, five distinct mental health conditions happen to be a lot more alike than we perceive them to be. These conditions include schizophrenia, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.

A handful of genes are shared between the people predisposed to such disorders. The findings resulted from the work of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium – an expert group formed by researchers from 19 countries. Over the years, the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium studied the DNA of 33,000 people who suffer from one or more of the mental health issues mentioned above.

A control group of 28,000 people who do not suffer from a mental health issue was also examined.

It’s interesting to point out that two of the genes identified in people suffering from the five conditions are responsible for the transportation of calcium in and out of the brain cells. This is an essential process that ensures the error-free “communication” between the cells and the proper functioning of the brain.

Problems with calcium transportation could lead to issues that can be exasperated by other genetic factors and environmental contributors. Depending on the specific circumstances, such a minor issue could even contribute to a full-blown mental health problem.

Better Diagnosis = Earlier and More Effective Treatment

Understanding the risk factors and knowing how to diagnose clinical depression simplifies the process of assisting individuals in need.

According to the Singapore Mental Health Study that was conducted in 2010, 5.8 per cent of the Singaporean adult population suffers from major depressive disorder.

In 2015, Singapore had the highest depression rates out of all Asian countries included in a mental health survey.

It’s difficult to come up with exact numbers since many people are described as high functioning depression sufferers. These individuals are capable of moving on with their life and being active participants in society. Their inner thoughts and feelings, however, are heavily affected by depression.

While depression isn’t always easy to diagnose, an experienced psychiatrist in Singapore will know what to look for when interacting with a patient. A conglomeration of symptoms like persistent sadness, apathy, loss of interest in previously favourite activities, weight loss, tiredness, suicidal thoughts and sleep problems could be highly indicative of clinical depression.

If you are dealing with depressive episodes or you believe that a loved one is struggling, you don’t have to suffer through the condition and hope for things to get better. Clinical depression can be debilitating but the condition can be addressed by an experienced mental health professional.

Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic delivers a comprehensive, holistic depression treatment. We rely on psychotherapy, medications and social help to enable patients to restore productivity, health and happiness in their lives.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment  or give us a call at 62509833 to have your questions answered.