What Are The Physical Effects Of Depression on Human Body
We’ve always heard and read how depression can affect us emotionally but have we ever paid close attention to how depression can affect the body, physically? I mean, we’re aware of the emotional signs such as feeling worthless, experiencing despair, and others but have we observed how it weakens our immune system, causes skin sensitivity, and others?
Depression is a mental health disorder that changes a person emotionally and brings feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and despair to the front. While various signs and symptoms of depression bring trauma and poor mental health condition, including negative thoughts, mismanaged sleep patterns, and suicidal thoughts, others can manifest as headaches, body aches, back pain, and chest pain.
Although depression is considered a mental disorder, it affects the body and physical well-being too. In this blog, I want to help you understand the physical symptoms of depression and how they manifest.
DO NOT IGNORE THEM! These physical side effects of depression can interfere with your day-to-day activities and may even cause a serious medical condition if left untreated.
Effects Of Depression On The Nervous System
Let’s begin by understanding the effects of depression on the nervous system. Depression can have a lot of symptoms within the nervous system, many of which we easily dismiss. Adults, especially the older generation, can face some difficulty in identifying the changes caused by depression as these signs could be confused with the signs of “getting older”.
Depression can lead to memory loss and can affect one’s reaction time, as per the American Psychological Association. These common issues are more likely to be misidentified by older people than younger ones.
Some common symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling persistent sadness
- Feeling constant grief
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling empty or hopeless
- Frequently crying or lack of emotion
- Having trouble sleeping
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling angry
- Experiencing a loss of interest in things
- Getting frequent headaches
- Experiencing chronic body aches
Other than these symptoms, people with depression are likely to face challenges keeping a routine, maintaining a constant work schedule, or socially interacting. Some people, to escape these symptoms can turn to alcohol or substance use, which may increase their depression and put them in the way of risk.
Others with depression often mask their feelings and avoid talking about some trigger topics. They may also find themselves thinking negatively about some situations or even contemplating suicide or death.
Physical Effects Of Depression On The Body:
Apart from the effects of depression on the nervous system such as persistent sadness, negative thoughts, and troubled thinking, the effects of depression on physical health can include:
1. Weight Fluctuations
Depression or anxiety affects the usual appetite. In some cases, a person hogs up everything in front without a second thought whereas, in some, they won’t even touch the food. At times, even the right amount of food or even the right diet doesn’t help the body.
Such fluctuating eating patterns either cause weight gain or weight loss. This, in turn, can impact people who are suffering from diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
2. Chronic Pain
Because your body refuses to rest and consume the right amounts of food, the body becomes weak. From here, stomach pain, cramps, constipation, and malnutrition/overnutrition become a concern.
Some people also find it hard to get up from bed in the morning and struggle to keep a routine to keep their bodies active. This low energy can eventually lead to fatigue and chronic pain in the body that can also be caused by restlessness and wrong postures.
3. Risk Of Heart Disease Increases
When the effects of depression on physical health are talked about, we cannot ignore cardiovascular health. We don’t realize how close depression and stress are linked to each other. Depression and stress can elevate the heart rate and tighten the blood vessels. Heart disease might not be so sudden but might occur over some time with continuous stress.
Moreover, the situation worsens if smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes combine these facts. This situation can also make a person immune to multiple other infections and diseases.
4. Loss Of Libido
Depression often manifests as experiencing a certain loss of interest in activities you liked before. When someone’s depressed, they lose interest in all the activities that were once loved, including sex.
Since sleep and appetite are hampered, sex drive gets affected at a higher rate. Most people living with depression lose interest in sex. Problems like a lack of arousal, lack of orgasms, or no pleasure during sex are common in people with depression.
5. Gastrointestinal Problems
The physical effects of depression include stomach and digestion problems. From constipation to diarrhea to vomiting, the condition of a person can worsen. One of the most common explanations for these issues can involve serotonin. This neurotransmitter connects the brain to the gut so when you’re depressed, the production of serotonin is reduced causing gastrointestinal issues.
Another aspect of your life that gets affected when you’re depressed is sleep. One of the most needed functions to repair the damage, not getting enough sleep, which can not only affect your mind but your physical health as well.
Sleep troubles may range from not being able to fall asleep, not getting a night of restful sleep, or sleeping too much. Sometimes, an imbalance in the circadian rhythm or the presence of sleep disorders like sleep apnea can lead to depression as well.
7. Psychomotor Problems
Psychomotor problems are when someone thinks at a different pace but move at another. For example, one of the common symptoms of depression is speaking slower than normal or moving sluggishly.
In this instance, if you’re depressed, then your thoughts might feel sluggish or your movements might feel heavy. Some people, though, might struggle with the opposite. They may experience restlessness, be more fidgety, or feel more agitated than usual.
The side effects of depression on the body and physical health are boundless but the complication arises when our mind is not thinking in the right direction. Then it can become challenging for a person to realize their worsening condition.
When it comes to the treatment of depression, there are many options available including psychotherapy, medications, self-help, or a combination of all. More often than not, the treatment may depend greatly on the severity of the symptoms.
For example, if you are living with mild symptoms, then some lifestyle changes might help; if you have moderate depression, then psychotherapy and lifestyle changes may work; and if you’re struggling with severe depression, then psychotherapy, medications, and self-help techniques might be suggested.
BEWARE! Prescribed medications and even over-the-counter medications to treat depressive symptoms might have side effects that can also have physical consequences of depression such as:
- Appetite changes
- Weight fluctuations
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty focusing
- Sexual dysfunction, and more.
If your medications are worsening your emotional, mental, or physical symptoms of depression, then it is recommended that you immediately seek medical consultation.
Depression or the effects of depression on physical health must not be taken lightly. Just like you would treat physical wounds caused by physical injury, seek help to heal physical problems caused by mental injury. If left untreated, depression can affect your body including cardio health, digestive health, immunity, and even sexual health.
If you or your loved one are showing any signs of depression or any other physical symptoms or effects of depression, then reach out for help. We are here for you. You can also reach out to the 988 Crisis Helpline or Text HOME to Crisis Helpline at 741741.
Feeling pain, indigestion, low immunity, sleep issues, fatigue, and even high blood pressure are all physical effects of depression, which have become a serious concern. TALK TO US or REACH OUT to a professional for help.
Never give up on yourself and keep fighting. Every day you wake up is another day you survive. With the right help and steps, you can learn to enjoy life one day, again. Keep working, keep fighting! You are not alone!
If you need our support, don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on our social media. We’re here to help!
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LET’S FIGHT DEPRESSION TOGETHER!