Physical Symptoms of Depression and Other Mental Health Conditions

silhouette of man in a bench

It is not just in your mind.

Often, mental health disorders manifest in physical symptoms. When it happens, it can be frustrating because it is impossible to pinpoint its cause and no amount of rest or medication can cure. Eventually, it can contribute to the negative feelings that the patient is already experiencing and it will interfere with their daily life.

Here are the most common physical symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions.

Back Pain

Pain, in general, can be exacerbated by depression. People who are depressed have a lower tolerance for pain which makes the sensation worse than it actually is.

However, sometimes, pain is caused by depression, too.

Experts have long suspected that mental health conditions may also lead to chronic aches, but there are still not enough studies that associate depression with inflammation.

One study from 2017 that looked at over a thousand students from a university in Canada did find a direct link between back pain and depression.

Taking anti-inflammatory medicine could provide temporary relief. Others may feel better after going to a chiropractic clinic.

Your anti-depressants also act as an analgesic that can suppress physical aches.

Headaches

Headaches are another common symptom of depression. Patients who are depressed experience it more often than others.

Unlike skull-splitting migraines, headaches induced by depression are often milder. It might feel like a mild throbbing or pain around the eyebrows. It does not interfere with daily life, but it causes discomfort.

Moreover, it happens frequently or almost daily.

Taking over-the-counter pain medication can provide temporary relief but, again, it does not solve the root cause of the problem. The headache will come back over and over again.

Unless the patient receives proper treatment by consulting a mental health professional, the headaches caused by depression would not disappear.

Stomach Pain and Uneasiness

A patient who has a sinking feeling in their stomach could be dealing with a mental health condition.

It is common among people with anxiety. Being anxious makes patients feel nauseous, experience cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. However, apparently, stomach discomfort is associated with depression, too.

One study, this time by researchers from Harvard, found that depression can cause inflammation in the digestive system. It also often mistaken as either inflammatory bowel disease or irritable bowel syndrome.

A person’s gut health can also affect their mental health. When there is an imbalance in the gut microbiome, it can lead to anxiety and depression.

Keeping the gut healthy, therefore, is crucial to prevent and treat these stomach discomforts. Eating a balanced diet that includes foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics can maintain the balance in the microbiome.

Fatigue

experiencing fatigue

Fatigue, or overwhelming tiredness, can be treated with rest and sleep in most cases. However, among people with depression, it can be an ongoing experience.

Depression can zap a person’s energy away, making them feel unmotivated to do normal tasks. They might stop bathing, stop cooking, stop exercising, stop going to school or work, and stop doing their hobbies because they lack the energy to do so.

Fatigue is also a symptom of many medical conditions, including diabetes, fibromyalgia, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and the new coronavirus. A patient who is experiencing long-term fatigue should first set an appointment with their doctor to rule out the possibility of having these illnesses.

If fatigue is caused by depression, it is usually accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, extreme sadness, and anhedonia (inability to find pleasure in everyday activities). Speaking to a psychologist or psychiatrist, who can identify the proper treatment, can cure fatigue caused by depression.

Vision Problems

To people who are depressed, the world is a lot less colorful.

It is not just imagined; there is a study that proves that depression can alter a person’s vision.

In Germany, researchers assessed how mental health can affect eyesight. They recruited 80 people, some of whom have been diagnosed with depression. The participants who had depression reported an inability to see the difference between black and white. The more severe the depression was, the harder it was to see the contrast between two colors.

If you suspect that you, or a loved one, are depressed, it is better to see a mental health professional about it. They can diagnose depression and other mental health conditions as well as provide the proper treatment.

A mental health professional may prescribe psychotherapy and/or medication to address the problem. They may also recommend making major lifestyle changes, including quitting vices, exercising regularly, practicing mindfulness, and having a support system at home.

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