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Can Depression Make You Sick?
- Depression can affect your physical health in a number of ways.
- Physical signs of depression include headache, insomnia, dizziness, and fatigue.
- Depression can affect your digestive health. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, acid reflux, convulsions, diarrhea, and constipation.
- Depression and stress can weaken your immune system. That means you are at a higher risk of getting sick.
Depression does not discriminate. Someone can catch a case of the blues. It̵
A 2017 study found that 17.3 million adults in the US had an episode of depression the previous year. It affects everyone differently.
You may have depression if you have any of these symptoms for 2 weeks or more:
- Feeling sad, anxious, empty, irritable, hopeless, pessimistic, guilty, worthless, restless, or helpless
- poor focus, memory, or difficulty making decisions
- Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
- Having thoughts of suicide
What are the physical signs of depression?
- a headache
- little energy
- Digestive problems
- Fluctuations in appetite
- Changes in sleep pattern
- Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
The gastrointestinal system (GI) and the brain have a strong bond. In fact, there are so many nerves in your GI tract that some researchers have called it a “second brain.”
Emotions can trigger this beautiful “butterflies in the stomach” mood. But they can also trigger a feeling of indigestion.
If you don’t have a GI condition, your chronic digestive problems can be a symptom of depression. You can treat an upset stomach. But that won’t cure the cause.
Sick of your belly
A 2018 study found that peeps with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) had higher rates of anxiety and depression. GERD is a condition in which the contents of the stomach are forced up into the esophagus. This causes heartburn and other uncomfortable symptoms.
There is also a proven link between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and depression. The unpleasant symptoms can act as psychological stressors. Studies show that around 50 to 90 percent of people treated with IBS also have a psychiatric disorder.
IBS symptoms include:
- stomach pain
Double-edged sleeping sword
Are you having trouble falling asleep? Wake up all night? Do you sleep poorly? Or do you sleep a lot more than usual and still feel tired?
Insomnia can be the first warning sign of major depression. Persistent sleep disorders can predict future depressive episodes.
The sleepy snake that ate itself
Sleep disorders are a common symptom of depression. But insomnia can be too root cause Depression. This cycle can feed into itself. The best way to kill a healthy sleep pattern is through CBTI (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia).
The immune system suffers
Mr. Sandman plays an important role in your overall health. Your immune system fights off infection while you catch Zzz. If your depression is keeping you awake, you are at greater risk of getting sick.
There is also evidence that depression is linked to inflammation. This is your body’s response to stress, infection, and injury. Inflammation goes hand in hand with impaired immunity.
Chronic inflammation can lead to:
A real broken heart?
When your heart literally hurts after a breakup you are not alone. Stress and depression can lead to heart problems. A 2013 study found that depression can play an important role in high blood pressure.
Stress and depression can also lead to:
- irregular heart rate
- Arterial damage 💔
Surprises on the scale
Depression can affect your eating habits. Some people lose their appetite. Others nosh for comfort. In any case, depression can cause weight fluctuations.
The relationship between depression and weight gain / loss is a little tricky. Some antidepressants can cause weight gain. On the other hand, antidepressants can also improve your general mood and motivation to exercise – which can help you shed a few pounds.
Do the scales count?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression is common in people who are overweight. A survey conducted over a 5-year period found that around 43 percent of adults with depression are also obese.
Terrible headache is the last thing you want to deal with when you are depressed. Unfortunately, 30 to 60 percent of depressed people also have frequent headaches. In fact, headaches and depression can fuel each other. Lack of sleep does not help the problem.
The connection between emotional and physical pain is legitimate. Mood disorders can change the perception of pain and make it worse. People who suffer from chronic pain are also more likely to experience depression.
Depression can also lead to back pain, stiff joints, and muscle pain. This could be due to inactivity. Losing interest in physical activity is a common symptom of depression, which can lead to stiffness and pain.
Read more about the physical symptoms of depression here.
There are many depression treatments available. Sometimes symptoms need to be treated separately. But certain remedies fight emotional ones and Physical symptoms. Do I have to love a twofer, right?
Most depression treatment plans contain several components that are tailored to your needs.
Pull up a couch
Psychotherapy is the bomb. It can really help you find the root of your depression and find positive ways to deal with it. Remember that therapy is not a one-size-fits-all treatment. The type of therapy you choose will depend on your needs and style.
Popular options are:
There is no shame in taking antidepressants. They can help correct the neurotransmitter imbalances in your brain that could be causing your depression. They can also improve symptoms of depression such as:
- Loss of appetite
- poor concentration
Ask your doctor which combination of medications is best for you. It can take some trial and error to find the perfect medication and dosage. Most antidepressants take 2 to 4 weeks to be fully effective.
Just relax bb
The ultimate solution that’s easier said than done! It seems impossible to start a new activity now. But take small steps. These options can improve your mood:
- Do an exercise that makes you feel good (such as yoga, nature walks, and swimming).
- Meditate. Take some time to free up your headspace.
- Spend time with “your people”. It is normal to feel alone and isolated when you are depressed. But it’s okay to ask for help (and let people help).
- Do not put extra pressure on yourself. Postpone important life decisions until you feel at home again.
- Treat yourself! Whether you are recording, taking a bath, etc., do something to make you feel good.
Other tools in your pill box
Antidepressants aren’t the only drugs that can help.
Ask your doctor if over-the-counter pain relievers (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen) are right for your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant for you if the symptoms are severe.
There are both prescription and OTC options that can help with GI symptoms like GERD and IBS.
A natural approach
You may be able to get relief from herbal remedies. Check out these:
- Melatonin, passion flower, valerian root, and magnesium can all help you sleep (although melatonin is recommended as a reset, not as a daily solution).
- Studies show that peeps that ingest omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to be depressed.
- St. John’s wort is often cited as a natural treatment for depression. But its effectiveness requires more research, and it can interact with some drugs.
PPE: Be careful with supplements and natural remedies. They are not always tested or regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Always ask your doctor before starting any new supplement.
Asking for help can be difficult. But don’t be ashamed. Make an appointment with a psychologist or doctor if you feel bad for more than 2 weeks. That’s how long it takes to get an actual diagnosis.
If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of harming yourself or having thoughts of suicide, call 911 for emergency medical care.
You can also reach out to a loved one or someone in your community or contact a suicide line such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
Depression isn’t just in your head. It can affect your entire life, your body, and everything. If you think you are depressed, remember: you are not alone. There are tons of resources out there that will help your mind and body feel better soon.