Many people mistakenly believe the symptoms of depression are purely psychological, but although sadness and anxiety are very much part of the depressed person’s makeup, there are also many other physical depression symptoms that provide clues to the depressed person’s state of mind.
Depression can affect the mind as well as the body and many of the psychological symptoms of depression can cause physical symptoms. In fact, research has shown that depression can have a negative effect on many of the key systems within the body, so if left untreated, living in a state of depression might eventually kill you.
What are the physical depression symptoms to look out for?
- Recurrent headaches and migraines are very common in those suffering from depression and because the two are inextricably linked, if you already have a history of migraines, you are much more likely to suffer from depression, and vice versa.
- Unexplained weight loss is a common symptom of depression. Depressed people have no interest in anything enjoyable, and very often that includes food. On the other side of the coin, depressed people sometimes comfort eat and weight gain can also be a symptom of depression. As a follow on symptom from eating problems, irregular eating patterns can cause dizziness and light-headedness due to low blood sugar and blood pressure.
- Extreme tiredness—depressed people have no energy and are always tired. This problem is often caused and further compounded by difficulties sleeping: the patient has poor sleeping habits, which causes a build up of fatigue. Sleeping too much is another sign of depression. Depressed people can sometimes view sleep as a way of “escaping” their perceived problems.
- Constipation or diarrhea is linked to anxiety and depression. A lack of appetite and irregular meals can all cause stomach upsets and digestive problems including nausea, constipation and diarrhea.
- Loss of sex drive—when a person is depressed, they lose all interest in life, including sex, and depression often leads to a loss of libido or sexual dysfunction.
- Unexplained aches and pains are often a symptom of depression. Unexplained back pain or non-specific pains in various parts of the body can sometimes be a marker for depression, especially if there are no other obvious causes for the pains and in fact, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that depression interferes with the neurological pain perception pathways. Unfortunately, doctors treating depressed people presenting the symptoms of pain often miss the signs of depression and spend too long trying to find the physical root of the pain.
- Interruptions to the menstrual cycle sometimes occur in women suffering from depression. This can be as a result of eating problems and weight loss.
It is important for anyone suffering from a range of unexplained physical symptoms to seek help and understand that these problems are not all in your mind. Depression is an illness like any other and as well as the psychological symptoms of sadness and hopelessness you are just as likely to experience physical problems, too, but with the correct treatment, the physical symptoms will eventually be resolved and disappear.