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Insight into the Physical Symptoms of Depression

written by: LotusSnow • edited by: jen2008 • updated: 12/7/2010

Sometimes people suffering from depression never get help because they are unaware that physical pain may be a symptom of depression. It is important that we realize that because when we treat the pain it can help alleviate our depression and when we treat the depression it can help with the pain.

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    Most of us are able to recognize the emotional and psychological symptoms of depression such as emptiness, hopelessness, loss of interest, worthlessness and suicide ideation. However, many of us are unaware that depression can be associated with many physical symptoms too. The following are some of the physical symptoms of depression:

    • Migraine Headaches. Many people who have depression suffer from headaches and migraines. In these individuals, their migraine headaches become even worse especially when they in a depressive state. One study that was done over a two-year period found that people with major depressive disorder are three times more likely than the average person to have a first migraine attack. People who have a history of migraines are also five times more likely compared to the average person to have a first episode of depression.
    • Back pain. Individuals who suffer from depression are more likely to develop intense or disabling neck or lower back pain. If you already experience back pain, it may get worse if you become depressed.
    • Muscle aches and joint pain. When you are depressed any kind of chronic pain can be magnified. Sometimes depression can manifest itself as arthritis-type physical symptoms.
    • Chest pain. Sometimes people with depression can experience discomforts associated with chest pains. It is however, important to get any kind of chest pain that we might experience checked out by a medical profession to rule out any possible heart problem.
    • Digestive problems. Individuals who are depressed can occasionally experience episodes of queasiness, nausea, diarrhea or chronic constipation. It is also not uncommon for people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) to also be diagnosed as having depression.
    • Exhaustion and fatigue. When a person is depressed sometimes they find that no matter how much they sleep, they still feel tired and exhausted. Fatigue and depression often go hand in hand. It is a vicious cycle, we can never really know for sure which one begins and the other ends. Is it the feeling of chronic fatigue that is making these individuals depressed or are they feeling fatigue because they are depressed.
    • Sleeping problems and disturbances. When you are depressed it is quite likely that you cannot sleep well. Depressed people tend to have difficulty falling asleep or they wake up in the early hours of the morning and can’t get back to sleep. There are also those who suffer from depression that tend to sleep too much. Not being able to sleep and lack of sleep does not cause depression but it can be a contributing factor.
    • Changes in appetite or weight. Some people who suffer from depression tend to crave certain foods like carbohydrates. Studies have linked depression with excess weight. However, there are also people who lose weight and lose their appetite when they are depressed.
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    It is important to recognize that these physical symptoms of depression are not “all in your head”. Real chemical changes can occur in your body when you are in a depression.