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Can depression make you sick? Unfortunately, the short answer is yes. Besides taking a toll on your mind, there is strong evidence that depression negatively impacts your body.
Depression is linked to health problems in nearly every bodily system. As a result, some experts believe that the first symptoms many people with depression see the doctor for are physical symptoms.
Today, we’ll discuss some of the ways depression can make you physically sick, and what you can do about it.
How Depression Can Make You Physically Sick
A common issue for those with depression is fatigue and listlessness. Depression can steal your energy and make you not want to move. It decreases your ability to concentrate and get things done. You may have trouble sleeping and not feel rested when you wake up.
People with depression sometimes experience a hyperactive pain response. Depression can affect pathways in the brain responsible for processing pain, changing how the body and mind perceive pain. On top of this, chronic pain is a cause of depression for many people.
Besides fatigue and pain, depression is linked to stomach and intestinal tract problems. Stress and depression can lead to ulcers, indigestion, heartburn, and constipation. This is because they can literally change the way your digestive system moves.
Depression can decrease immunity, increase inflammation throughout the body, and even affect your heart. Depression is linked to irregular cardiac rhythms, higher chances of high blood pressure, and increased cardiac disease risk. Headaches and problems losing or gaining weight can also result from depression.
How Can You Treat Depression?
So what can you do to treat depression and reduce the risk of these detrimental health effects?
Antidepressants are one way to relieve depression symptoms. Antidepressants work by correcting chemical imbalances in the brain. Some of these chemicals impact the body in addition to the mind, so medication can also help alleviate physical symptoms.
Therapy is another helpful treatment. There are different types of therapy available, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. A therapist can guide you to more positive coping mechanisms, help you reset negative thought patterns and beliefs, and change behaviors that may trigger or contribute to depression.
Medication and therapy go a long way towards easing the symptoms of depression, which can ultimately lead to a healthier body. But there are additional ways to support your healing journey.
Researchers found that practicing gratitude comes with surprising benefits. After practicing gratitude through letter writing alongside counseling, study participants reported better mental health than those who did not practice gratitude.
Focusing less on negative words and experiences and more on things you’re grateful for can have lasting effects on the brain.
More Strategies to Help You Maintain a Healthy Mind and Body
Stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, and massage are powerful tools to help you maintain a better mood. For example, studies have found that yoga reduces depression, in addition to being beneficial for your body.
Positive affirmations are also scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance positive coping mechanisms, improve self-esteem, and empower you to control negative thoughts. A positive affirmation could be as simple as “I am grateful for my life” or “I deserve to be happy.”
If you need some inspiration on using positive affirmations, visit our list of 55 positive affirmation examples to get started.
Getting in touch with spirituality can lead to greater happiness and wellbeing, so you could also use some of these spiritual affirmations in your daily routine.
Technology offers many channels of support as well. Mental health apps can be a great way to help you stay centered and mindful. Some apps, such as Talkspace, even provide 24-hour access to a licensed therapist, so there’s always someone available when you’re struggling.
Final Thoughts on Whether Depression Can Make You Sick
The interconnection between body and mind is undeniable. If you live with depression, some days can feel like swimming through mud. It can be hard to feel motivated or take action.
On top of this, depression doesn’t always look the way society may portray it. Some people have high-functioning depression, which can look like being overly critical and irritable, having a racing mind, a sense of foreboding, or self-doubt. You might throw yourself into your work and never slow down, although you’re battling feelings of depression.
But if you’re struggling, it’s essential to seek help. Untreated depression can harm both your body and your mind. If you think you may be suffering from depression, talk to your doctor or someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Support is available, and you don’t have to go through it alone.