Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you haven’t. You’d better read this!
Are unsightly and painful veins in your legs and elsewhere a cause of concern to you? Varicose veins can be a psychological problem in addition to the pain and shame they can inflict on people. Vanity can be a tough emotion to deal with for many of us. Studies have shown that the prevalence of depression in those with varicose veins is twice that of the general population! This is a startling statistic - although it should come as no surprise. Vanity, thy name is Varicose!
A Medical or Cosmetic Problem?
A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that patients with varicose vein disease, without ulcers, have Quality of Life (QoL) scores similar to patients who have suffered a heart attack, hip fracture or stroke. Those unfortunate enough to progress to a venous ulcer had QoL scores compatible with congestive heart failure or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). So there is good reason, supported by science, that the treatment of varicose veins is considered medical as opposed to cosmetic.
So, who gets vein problems?
Statistics show that varicose veins are a very common medical condition with a reported incidence of 20-25% in women, and 10-15% in men. In the United States alone, it is estimated that over 30 million individuals are affected, yet only 1.9 million seek treatment. That’s barely over 6% of sufferers! Thus, nearly 94% of those with the problem are needlessly suffering physically and emotionally due to no medical attention!
Symptoms of Depression
It’s depressing! Depression is a common health disorder and affects more than 120 million people worldwide. It is a debilitating disease that can become chronic or recurrent and prevents millions of individuals from carrying out normal activities of daily living or work.
Below are specific symptoms of depression:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day (Do you recognize anyone you know? Maybe YOU?)
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting, or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite, nearly every day
- Insomnia (inability to fall asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness), nearly every day
- Restlessness or a slowing down of an individual as observed by others, nearly every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy, nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt, nearly every day
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), frequent suicidal conversations without a specific plan
- A suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide
Depressing? Wait – Here’s some Good News From Across the Pond
In England, Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) questionnaires are offered before and after all National Health Service patients undergo varicose vein interventions. These questionnaires assess Quality of Life issues, the presence of anxiety or depression before and after the procedures, and procedural success and satisfaction. And, the good news is that a recent report found intervention for varicose veins had a positive effect on anxiety and depression! Plus, the presence of and pain from the veins dissipates significantly or totally!
What can you do?
So the take home message for you is that venous (vein) disease is a chronic illness which dramatically impacts Quality of Life, physical abilities and state of mind. As a chronic and debilitating disorder, varicose veins (and resulting ulcers) go hand-in-hand with depression, often very severe. Your doctor can provide much more information that is relevant to your personal condition, situation and prognosis.
And, thanks to painless medical procedures, when the veins, ulcers and pains are gone, your daily routine, optimism and happiness can all return! Yes!