Did you know that 64 percent of adults with a depressive disorder or symptoms have a greater chance of developing coronary artery disease? Can depression make you sick? It’s possible.
However, the link is bigger than that. Your mental health disorder could also be caused by a physical illness. For example, around 25 percent of people with cancer have depression.
With a big diagnosis like that, it might seem normal for that to be the case; however, that’s not the only connection. Keep reading as we explore why depression is a whole-body experience.
Depression, often referred to as the “common cold” of mental health, is much more than just feeling sad or blue. It is a complex condition that affects a person’s mood, thoughts, and behaviors. At its core, depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness that can interfere with daily life.
Common symptoms can include the following:
- Overwhelming sadness
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
These psychological symptoms can be debilitating and greatly impact one’s quality of life.
But it doesn’t end there. Depression can also take a heavy toll on the physical body.
Physical Symptoms of Depression
The physical symptoms of depression are often overlooked, but they can be just as debilitating as the psychological ones.
When you experience these physical symptoms alongside emotional distress, it’s important to recognize that they could be signs of underlying depression rather than solely being related to other medical conditions.
Fatigue or Low Energy
One common physical symptom is fatigue or low energy. You may find yourself feeling tired all the time, even after a full night’s sleep.
The tricky part of this symptom is that it can exacerbate the other symptoms. It makes it harder to engage in the activities that would help you feel better. This can make it harder to address your depression.
One of the physical symptoms commonly associated with depression is sleep difficulties. Many individuals with depression experience changes in their sleeping patterns. This can have a significant impact on their overall well-being.
These changes may include insomnia, where a person finds it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. On the other hand, some individuals may experience hypersomnia. With hypersomnia, they’ll find themselves sleeping excessively and still feeling tired.
Sleep difficulties can play into making you sick. A lack of sleep can impact your immune system. Studies show that when you don’t get enough sleep; you’re more likely to get sick.
Gastrointestinal symptoms are common among individuals with depression. The mind and gut have a strong connection.
It’s no surprise that changes in one can affect the other. When people are experiencing depression, they often have problems with their digestion. This can cause stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation.
Gastrointestinal symptoms can make living with depression even harder. They can be very debilitating. They may also worsen existing physical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Depression doesn’t just affect your mind; it can also take a toll on your cardiovascular health. The impact of depression on the heart and blood vessels is well-documented. Studies show that individuals with depression are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and experiencing cardiovascular issues.
One way depression affects the cardiovascular system is by increasing inflammation in the body. This chronic inflammation can damage blood vessels. Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, can happen and raise the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
Additionally, depression can disrupt the balance of hormones in our bodies. This includes hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones play crucial roles in regulating blood pressure and heart rate.
Changes in Appetite
One of the lesser-known physical symptoms of depression is a change in appetite. Some individuals may experience an increase in appetite, leading to weight gain and potential health risks. On the other hand, some people may lose their desire to eat, resulting in significant weight loss and malnourishment.
These changes can have profound effects on overall health and well-being. Poor nutrition due to decreased or increased appetite can weaken the immune system. This makes individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.
It can also lead to deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals needed for proper bodily functions. Drastic weight changes strain the heart and increase the risk of heart disease and related conditions.
It’s important to note that these physical symptoms are not limited to depression alone. They are also often seen as comorbidities with other mental health disorders such as anxiety or bipolar disorder.
Can Depression Make You Sick?
But even with all of this, the question remains: Can depression actually make you sick? The answer is complex.
It’s not that depression makes you sick, as much as it creates a perfect storm of factors. The way depression impacts your body physically can lead to your becoming sick.
Depression and the Immune System
Depression itself may not directly cause illnesses, but it can weaken the immune system. This makes it harder for your body to fight off infections or recover from other diseases.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Individuals with depression often engage in unhealthy coping mechanisms. This can include substance abuse or neglecting self-care practices like exercise or proper nutrition. All of these factors contribute to overall poor health.
Depression and Your Hormones
One important aspect of the link between depression and physical illness is the role of cortisol in our bodies. Cortisol is a hormone that helps regulate stress responses. However, when we experience chronic stress or depression, cortisol levels can become imbalanced.
High levels of cortisol for prolonged periods can weaken the immune system. This makes us more susceptible to infections and illnesses. It can also contribute to inflammation in the body.
Inflammation has been linked to various health conditions. This includes heart disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.
Additionally, elevated cortisol levels can disrupt sleep patterns. This can lead to insomnia or other sleep difficulties commonly associated with depression. Lack of adequate restful sleep further compromises our overall health and well-being.
Seeking Help and Treatment Options
When it comes to seeking help and treatment options for depression, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Reach out to a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing symptoms of depression or if you feel like your mental health is impacting your daily life. They can help diagnose the physical symptoms of depression and guide you toward appropriate treatment options.
Treatment Options for Depression
When it comes to treating depression, there are several options available that can help you find relief and improve your overall well-being. It’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Finding the right treatment approach may involve some trial and error.
One common treatment option is psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy. This involves working with a trained therapist who can help you explore your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. This can help you to develop healthier coping mechanisms and strategies.
Another option is medication. Medication can be prescribed by a healthcare provider to help regulate brain chemicals and alleviate symptoms of depression.
There are also alternative therapies such as acupuncture or mindfulness meditation. These have shown promise in helping individuals manage their depressive symptoms.
Natural Remedies and Self-Care
When it comes to managing depression, making positive lifestyle changes can help. Taking care of your physical health can have a positive effect on your mood and energy levels. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine is one way to boost your mood and reduce symptoms of depression.
Exercise releases endorphins. These are known as the “feel-good” hormones that can help alleviate feelings of sadness or anxiety.
In addition to exercise, practicing good sleep hygiene is crucial for maintaining mental well-being. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine can improve the quality of your sleep. This can contribute to overall better mental health.
In addition, surround yourself with supportive relationships. Reach out to friends and family members who understand what you’re going through.
Consider joining support groups where you can connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges. Social interaction is essential for combating feelings of isolation and building a strong support system.
Additionally, incorporating relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises or mindfulness meditation into your routine can help reduce stress and promote emotional balance.
There are many things you can do to help with your symptoms. If you attend talk therapy, your counselor can help you create a plan that works for you.
Find the Help You Need
Can depression make you sick? The answer to this question is complex. Depression can create the perfect storm of symptoms that lead to you becoming sick.
That’s why it’s important to address your depression with a professional. Are you ready to take back your life and start feeling better?
If you’re struggling with substance abuse and depression our dual diagnosis program can help you. Contact America’s Rehab Campuses today to find out more about our programs.