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How Is Depression Affecting Your Body?

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems in the world. A few of the common symptoms are a constant feeling of sadness, hopelessness, low self-esteem and guilt. If you are depressed, you might face problems while concentrating on your daily tasks.

But the effects of depression can extend beyond your mental health. The effects of depression on the body may result in body pain, fatigue, inflammation, digestive problems, and restlessness.

Effects of depression on the body

The Physical Effects of Depression  are:

The most common depression side effect in the body is pain. If you are suffering from depression, you may feel pain in your limbs and joints or headaches. The pain can be extremely irritating. You may also have chronic pain and become depressed.

Body pain may be due to the disruption of serotonin in the brain because of depression. Some patients have noticed that their pain is relieved after taking antidepressants. Furthermore, some cases have been observed where people suffering from depression have low tolerance towards pain. Among adults with depression, lower back pain is a common occurrence.

It is considered that people with depression have higher chances of back pain than people who are not depressed. Your depression may worsen if you are suffering from chronic pain.

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) is continuous depression that lasts for two years or more, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Counselling have been found to benefit in such cases.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj – M.B.B.S, M.D.
  • Digestive Problems

Another one of the widespread effects of depression on the body is gastrointestinal or digestive issues. Depression has a significant impact on your nutrition and appetite. You may suffer from digestive problems such as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea and even loss of appetite. You may completely lose interest in eating that can result in nutritional deficiency.

Adults suffering from depression may suddenly lose their appetite. This can lead to a condition called geriatric anorexia. Eating disorders can cause other complications, such as:

  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Cramps
  • Malnutrition

Being underweight can cause fatigue and even disrupt your fertility. On the other hand, weight gain can lead to obesity and cardiac problems.

Digestive issues may be related to the secretion of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin regulates your happiness and mood. But as most of the serotonin is produced in your gut, it plays an essential role in regulating your digestive processes.

  • Sleeping Troubles

Having trouble sleeping is very common among people having depression. Insomnia is among the most observed effects of depression on the body. If you are depressed, doctors will initially focus on your sleeping patterns.

You are most likely to have trouble falling asleep at night and feel restless. You may also be unable to get an adequate amount of restful sleep. Depression can lead to oversleeping too.

Sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea may also increase your possibilities of suffering from depression.

Doctors have researched that disruptions in your circadian rhythm – the natural sleep cycle – can lead to depression. Moreover, if you are unable to get proper shut-eye, you may face other health problems. These may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulties in concentrating and thinking properly
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Weight gain
  • Poor sex drive
  • Immunity

Low immunity is among the depression side effects on the body. This is because depression can mess up your immune system. This puts you at a higher risk of falling sick and vulnerable to infections. If depression has weakened your immune system, you may take longer to heal or get better. Doctors have found a relationship between depression and inflammation. Inflammation can lead to other health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis.

  • Fatigue

People affected by depression tend to suffer from fatigue all the time. No matter how much they sleep, they never seem to be completely rested. So, if you have depression, you might have a hard time getting up in the morning. You might feel tired all day long. As a result, daily activities like bathing, eating or other household chores might seem tough and uninteresting.

Fatigue may be linked to poor sleeping habits – that is a result of depression. It is one of the most challenging effects of depression on the body. Many people who have been prescribed antidepressants have a tough time getting rid of fatigue. Also, read more on the potential side effects of antidepressants.

Furthermore, fatigue can decrease your energy levels. This, in turn, can lower your motivational levels. Thus, addressing fatigue is crucial for curing depression.

  • Cardiovascular Problems

When you are depressed, your body releases stress hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones speed up your heart rate and tighten your blood vessels. This may lead to heart diseases. This is because unmanaged stress can lead to high blood pressure and a weak immune system.

If you already have heart problems, depression can increase your problems. Moreover, the possibilities of heart attacks and blood clotting may also increase.

Physical symptoms are common in depression, and, in fact, vague aches and pain are often the presenting symptoms of depression. These symptoms include chronic joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, tiredness, sleep disturbances, psychomotor activity changes, and appetite changes.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD
  • Central Nervous System

Older patients having depression face problems while focusing on daily activities and may also suffer memory loss. These effects of depression on the central nervous system are often ignored by people. Problems in the central nervous system result in physical changes such as frequent headaches, body pain and sleeping issues that have been mentioned earlier.

These neurological problems may be due to the secretion of excessive amounts of cortisol after a stressful event. Over time, you may develop neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy.

  • Psychomotor Symptoms

Psychomotor problems may cause you to think that you are moving or thinking at a pace that you usually don’t. You may feel that your thoughts are becoming slow. Your movements may be slowing down and you might feel sluggish.

You may also have feelings of restlessness, agitation and unwanted thoughts. The problems may aggravate as you get older. That is why many doctors are considering psychomotor issues as symptoms of depression rather than signs of ageing.

Coping with the various effects of depression on the body will require a proper diagnosis of depression in the first place. In case you are facing chronic headaches, fatigue, appetite loss or sudden weight gain along with persistent sadness, consult a doctor immediately. This will help the doctor determine the most effective ways to cure your depression

Also Read: Know The Difference Between Sadness and Depression

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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