Depression affects millions of people worldwide. People struggle with feelings of worthlessness, unwanted intrusive thoughts, lack of motivation, suicide ideation, feelings of sadness or emptiness, trouble concentrating and much more. At times we focus so much on the psychological effects of depression that we forgot it also has physical symptoms as well. These can range from mild to severe. It is important to become aware of your physical symptoms. This way you can understand how your depression manifests and gain control over it. Some of the physical symptoms are:
- Decreased or increased appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Decreased sex drive
- Constricted heart vessels
- Elevated pain sensitivity
- Weight fluctuations
- Weakened immune system
- Chronic body aches, such as: joint, limbs, breast tenderness or back pain
- Digestive system problems, like: Irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea or constipation
- Cardiovascular problems, such as: coronary artery disease
- Increased inflammation throughout the body
Did you know depression can affect the immune system? It makes is harder for you to fight of infections. The lack of sleep and stress weakens the immune system. Due to this an existing illness can get worse or it can be easier for you to catch the cold. Depression has even been linked to heart disease and other cardiovascular problems. This occurs because stress and depression are closely linked. Stress hormones such as cortisol can constrict blood vessels. Keeping your body in a prolonged state of fight or flight. In time, it can lead to heart disease and increase your chances of a heart attack.
There have been various studies in the past that suggests there is a connection between inflammation and depression. This may explain why people with autoimmune disorders have a higher predisposition to depression. Not only that, but it has been shown that some people benefit from anti-inflammatory medication. Although, this is an area that needs more research it seems to be promising.
Depression has also been linked to gastrointestinal problems. This is believed to influence your mood because most of your serotonin is produced and stored in the gut. If there are problems in this area, then your serotonin production can become affected and in turn worsen your depression and body ache. Also, this mental disorder can affect your psychomotor activity. Therefore, during a major depressive episode you may feel heavy or sluggish.
People living with a chronic health condition have reported that their symptoms worsen when they are depressed. Suggesting that depression can exacerbate their pain. When this happens, your doctor should take into consideration your condition and depression. Only by doing so, can you have an improved quality of life.
It’s a nasty cycle because depression increases your risk of pain and illness and then in turn the illness will make you feel worse affecting your depression. Therefore, it is important to understand your physical symptoms. Many of us go to our primary doctor complaining about pain that seems to have no cause. On the other hand, if you do have a chronic health condition and you are on a treatment that suddenly stopped working. Then depression could be the cause of the sudden change. It is essential that you speak to your doctor if you suspect of depression.
I hope this article helps you understand a bit more of what you are going through. Do you experience physical symptoms? If so let me know in the comment section below.
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