Depression and Varicose Veins

Depression is a well-documented medical condition within the general population. Indeed, the vast majority of individuals have probably had days when they felt down at some point in their lives. Whether these feelings ultimately warrant the diagnosis of depression is dependent greatly upon the severity of a person’s symptoms. Depression is believed to afflict over 120 million people worldwide. Its symptoms can quickly progress to a chronic or recurrent condition that if left untreated, can dramatically affect the daily routine and normal activities of the sufferer.

Varicose vein disease is also a very well-known condition within the general population. Depending on what you read, vein disease afflicts somewhere between 30-50% of the population. Females more so than their male counterparts. Often seen as a cosmetic condition, vein disease can undoubtedly also have a psychological impact on the sufferer. Not only are they ugly to look at, they can also unknowingly inflict pain, leg cramps and even restless leg issues on the sufferer. The majority of people, however, tend to focus on the aesthetics of vein disease primarily because many who present to our offices do not recognize or associate their spider veins with symptoms. In fact, many people do not even understand that varicose vein disease is really a medical condition and not a cosmetic condition.  

Understandably, this is why the words “Depression” and “Varicose Veins” do not often go hand in hand in the minds of many; but should they?  According to studies published by the New England Journal of Medicine, and Journal of Vascular Surgery, people with documented varicose vein disease are found to have a reduced quality of life compared with the general population, according to the Aberdeen questionnaire, a very well respected quality of life questionnaire used within the medical community. These studies further suggest that this reduction in quality of life significantly improves within 6 weeks of initiating varicose vein treatments. These studies go on to point out that the Aberdeen Quality of Life (QoL) scores do in fact correlate well with other medical conditions. For instance, it was found that patients who have suffered prior heart attacks, strokes or even hip fractures, have QoL scores that are comparable to patients with varicose vein disease who do not have a venous stasis ulcer. In those patients who have vein disease and also have a venous stasis ulcer, the QoL score was comparable to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or congestive heart failure (CHF). These studies only further counters the misconception that varicose vein disease is only a cosmetic issue.

So, what can you do about it?

The answer to this question is essentially “a lot” can be done. The first step is determining what the underlying cause of your depression is. Many depression related issues like bipolar depression require intensive psychiatric evaluation and often times medications to control. In those with mild cases of depression, the solution can be as simple as addressing one’s varicose vein disease issues. According to a study published in the United Kingdom, patients with varicose vein disease were given Patient-Reported Outcome Measures questionaires (PROMS) to assess their QoL issues before and after vein treatment interventions. The results showed a positive effect on patients’ overall depression and anxiety. There was also a significant decrease in reported pain and discomfort caused by the patients’ vein issues.

Conclusion:

With all that we now know about vein disease, it is important to adjust the way we see varicose vein disease. It should no longer be considered a cosmetic problem but a chronic medical condition that can dramatically affect a person’s overall quality of life, activities of daily life and their mental well-being. All of which have been shown to be true in recent medical studies. This is precisely why depression and varicose vein disease do go hand in hand to some degree. Addressing your varicose and spider vein issues can not only improve the way you look at your legs, but treatment can also improve your overall quality of life and help decrease any feelings of depression that you may suffer from. Give STL Vein and Cosmetics a call at 314.842.1441 to set up your free consultation today. Let our staff of vein experts help you on your way to healthier legs and a healthier mind.

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