Diagnosis: Depression and More

FRESNO, Calif.

Three women, three battles with depression. All suffering in silence.

"I couldn't function, I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I lost a tremendous amount of weight," Gina Adkins told Ivanhoe.

"I had to make a rational decision whether or not to go home to these to my children or drive my car off the road," Lauren Machos said.

"I was on three different kinds of depression meds at one point," Alison Parker said.

Depression isn't just about your mood any more. New studies show it might lead to disease, too.

"We found that the number of times that you've had elevated depressive symptoms increases your risk of developing dementia," Vonetta Dotson, Ph.D at the University of Florida explained.

Dr. Dotson says a bout with depression is kind of like a blow to head. She found one single episode ups your risk of dementia by 87-percent. Two or more depressive episodes: the risk skyrockets to 200 percent.

"Chronic stress or depression can be associated with damage to the hippocampus, we also know that the hippocampus is implicated in dementia," Dr. Dotson said.

Osteoporosis is also linked to depression. One study found women with chronic stress and depression developed bone loss, and one-third of cancer patients surveyed at diagnosis say they've been previously depressed. As for your heart, a new study shows depression may boostchest inflammation.

"Treatment is really important and might affect their cognitive functioning down the road and I think that's new information that not everyone is aware of," Dr. Dotson said.

That means taking care of both mind and body is key.

"I needed to go in and get some help," Machos said.

Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.