Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Could my depression be a medical problem?"

ZocdocAnswersCould my depression be a medical problem?


I'm 19 years old, and have a history of chronic bronchitis and intestinal problems. I am a heavy smoker (though trying to quit), rarely drink and I don't do any hard drugs. For the last few weeks I have been feeling more and more depressed and am having severe mood swings. There have been no significant changes in my life, no recent tragedies or physical trauma. There appears to be no reason for me to feel this way. I have been diagnosed with GAD and panic disorder, but I feel like at this time these are not contributing factors. Could this be a medical problem, and if so, what should I have my doctor look for?


Depression is a serious and common medical condition. I would strongly recommend that you see your doctor at once to address this. There are many treatments that are available and are often quite successful. Talk to your doctor. Depression, or as its known major depressive disorder, is a common condition. This is thought to be due to an abnormal level of certain chemicals in the brain -- specifically it is thought that the chemical known as serotonin is abnormal and therefore causes depression. It is known that people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder are at higher risk and therefore it is possible that there is significant abnormalities in your brain chemistry. Depression can be diagnosed by your doctor clinically -- there are no lab tests needed. Your doctor will look for feeling of sadness, sleep changes, loss of interest, feelings of guilt, loss of energy, loss of concentration, change in appetite, as well as either suicidal or homicidal thoughts. IF YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS OF HURTING YOURSELF OR OTHERS YOU SHOULD GO DIRECTLY TO YOUR CLOSEST EMERGENCY ROOM. Depression is also associated with intestinal problems (known as irritable bowel syndrome). If you have depression, there are many good treatments. One would need to rule out bipolar disorder before treatment. Talk to your doctor.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.