How Can I Take Care Of Myself
Once you begin treatment, you should gradually start to feel better. Go easy on yourself during this time. Try to do things you used to enjoy. Even if you dont feel like doing them, they can improve your mood. Other things that may help:
- Try to get some physical activity. Just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost mood.
- Try to maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
- Eat regular, healthy meals.
- Do what you can as you can. Decide what must get done and what can wait.
- Try to connect with other people, and talk with people you trust about how you are feeling.
- Postpone important life decisions until you feel better.
- Avoid using alcohol, nicotine, or drugs, including medications not prescribed for you.
Weight Loss Or Weight Gain
Your mood may impact your diet. For some, depression causes a loss of appetite that could lead to unnecessary weight loss.
For others with depression, feelings of hopelessness may result in poor eating choices and a loss of interest in exercise. Reaching for foods high in sugars, fats, and starchy carbohydrates is also common. Increased appetite and weight gain are also side effects of some medications for depression.
Obesity also seems to be common in people with depression, according to an older survey by the . The survey, conducted between 2005 and 2010, found that approximately 43 percent of adults with depression are obese.
Depression Causes Physical Symptoms
Depression affects much more than moods. These are a few of the most common physical symptoms of depression:
- Increased aches and pains, which occur in about two out of three people with depression
- Chronic fatigue
- Insomnia, lack of deep sleep, or oversleeping
What causes these symptoms of depression? Changes in the brain have an effect on many of the body’s systems. For example, abnormal functioning of brain messengers such as serotonin can alter your pain threshold. This means you become more sensitive to pain, especially back pain. Serotonin also affects sleep and lowers sex drive — nearly half of everybody with depression has problems with sex.
Unfortunately, individuals with depression, as well as their families and health care professionals, often overlook the physical signs and symptoms of depression. In one case, researchers found that sleep troubles, fatigue, and worries about health are reliable indicators of depression in older adults. But, they found, these signs are routinely and incorrectly dismissed as a natural part of aging.
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Understanding Depression And Its Symptoms
Depression comes with a range of symptoms, from mood to behavioral, cognitive, and the more physical. These include:
- Intense feelings of despair
- Social isolation
- Loss of interest or enjoyment
These symptoms make depression a highly disruptive conditionmentally, emotionally, and physically. It is a mental condition which not only has the potential to affect your mind, but also your body, Caleb Backe, health and wellness expert, explains. The stress and anxiety which accompany some types of depression may cause the body to react in a way which resembles physical illness.
Anybody who has ever had the flu knows that fatigue, changes in weight or appetite, and sleep disruption can accompany this sicknessall of which are listed above as symptoms of depression. Additionally, the emotions and moods which come with the territory of being sick with the flu can also be seen during mentally overwhelming times of stress, says Backe. Think: irritability, loss of interest, even sadness or despair.
So If My Depression Or Anxiety Is Chronic Does It Mean Im Even More Likely To Get Sick
Unfortunately yes. Studies show the negative effects on your physical health increase when depression and anxiety become chronic. For example a Canadian study showed those with chronic anxiety developed stroke, aneurysm, and other cerebrovascular disease at a higher rate than the general population. Chronic anxiety also heightened incidence of heart, gastrointestinal, hypertensive, and respiratory diseases.
So your chronic depression or anxiety are a definite risk to your health. To safeguard your health and keep depression and anxiety from making you sick, see the suggestions in the last part of this article.
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Not Wanting To Leave The House
Some people with depression can be housebound for weeks or longer. There are plenty of reasons for this, depending on who you ask. For some, its self-hatred. For others, crushing fatigue. Depression has this power to zap not only your will, but also your physical ability to leave the house.
The energy required to go grocery shopping is out of reach. The fear that every person you run into will hate you is real. This thought loop of uncertainty creates an environment where its almost impossible to get out the front door.
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20. Go out in the snow. Inhale, exhale. Feel the cold on your hands. As youre back inside, youll feel much more oxygenated.
21. Call your doctor or therapist if you have one. If its an emergency, you are very entitled to ask for their help.
22. Give yourself permission to feel angry, sad or alone. You have every right to feel so.
23. Do one thing at a time. You dont need to multitask or rush. It wont really work anyway.
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Symptom #5 Exhaustion & Trouble Sleeping
Because depression and fatigue are so intertwined, it can be really hard to separate them or work out which came first.
Having no energy is a common complaint from people with depression. But theres a lot more to this than not feeling motivated.
Experts say depression causes a complete lack of energy termed anergia which can be so severe that moving around becomes excruciating. Some people saying that even getting out of bed is a daunting task.
This isnt tiredness that can be cured with sleep. This is fatigue which is a very different beast with people feeling exhausted from the moment they wake up.
Another physical sign of depression is sleepless nights and insomnia. This could mean having trouble drifting off or waking up throughout the night. But on the flip side, for others, depression can actually cause them to sleep excessively.
Different Types Of Depression
Your doctor may diagnose you with depression and say that its mild, moderate or severe depending on your symptoms and how severe they are. Or you may be diagnosed with a specific type of depression, such as:
- dysthymia mild depression that lasts for several years
- seasonal affective disorder depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern
- postnatal depression depression that many parents experience after having a baby. Some people experience antenatal depression during pregnancy.
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Limerence: An Addiction To Love
For some people, lovesickness goes beyond butterflies: It may also induce physical effects, such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, stomach pain, loss of sleep, and depression, all which may persist and prevent you from functioning normally. Also known as limerence, this condition is marked by extreme attraction to another, as well as an obsessive need to have feelings returned.
Genetic levels of a chemical called monomine oxidase make some people more susceptible to addictions, one of which can be love, Hullett says. People who experience limerence tend to constantly fall in and out of love and remain in an enormous state of turmoil because of it.
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60. If the weathers not friendly, vitamin D can be found in egg yolks, tuna, salmon, soy and some dairy products you could create great meals with.
61. If youre too lazy to eat right now, ask your doctor to prescribe you the right dose of vitamin D, especially if you live in cold climate.
62. Swim, if you can, or spend time at the pool. Water helps our muscles relax.
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What Risks And Complications Can Depression Cause
Having depression can cause other problems. It can affect your mental health as well as your physical health, and it may affect other areas of your life too. For example, depression may cause:
- disturbed sleep,
- difficulties with work and your hobbies,
- difficulties keeping contact with friends and families, or
- suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harming.
Some people might also drink more alcohol to try and relieve depression. However, as we said in the previous section above, this can actually make depression worse.
If you have any of these problems, speak to your GP.
How Is Depression Treated
Depression treatment typically involves medication, psychotherapy, or both. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, brain stimulation therapy may be another treatment option. In milder cases of depression, treatment might begin with psychotherapy alone, and medication added if the individual continues to experience symptoms. For moderate or severe depression, many mental health professionals recommend a combination of medication and therapy at the start of treatment.
Choosing the right treatment plan should be based on a persons individual needs and medical situation under a providers care. It may take some trial and error to find the treatment that works best for you. You can learn more about the different types of treatment, including psychotherapy, medication, and brain stimulation therapies on the NIMH’s depression webpage. For information on finding a mental health professional and questions to ask when considering therapy, visit NIMHs psychotherapies webpage.
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Appetite And Weight Changes
Depression in and of itself can make someone feel like eating more or less than they typically do. People who are depressed may report they have lost weight without trying or have gained weight without being sure of the reason why.
One factor that may contribute to weight gain is emotional eating which refers to a person using food to self-medicate feelings of depression. These behaviors can lead to weight gain over time. If someone is overweight or obese, changes in self-image, associated health problems, and weight stigma can also contribute to depression.
The relationship between weight and depression may depend on more than how much someone weighs or their body mass index .
For example, a 2019 study proposed a specific link between higher amounts of body fat mass and depression .
Depression can also cause someone to lose weight. Loss of appetite, low energy, and motivation that makes preparing meals difficult, bowel symptoms, and other factors may cause weight loss in someone who is depressed. People who have eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, often also have depression or another mental illness.
Weight loss in eating disorders can be extreme and may cause a host of physical symptoms. Several studies have suggested that malnutrition from inadequate food intake may worsen depression, though additional research is needed to support the theory.
Eye Problems Or Decreasing Vision
Do you find that the world looks blurry? While depression may cause the world to look grey and bleak, one 2010 research study in Germany suggests that this mental health concern may actually affect ones eyesight.
In that study of 80 people, depressed individuals had difficulty seeing differences in black and white. Known by researchers as contrast perception, this might explain why depression can make the world look hazy.
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Back Pain Or Aching Muscles All Over
You might feel okay in the morning, but once youre at work or sitting at a school desk, your back starts to hurt. It could be stress, or it could be depression. Although theyre often associated with bad posture or injuries, backaches can also be a symptom of psychological distress.
A 2017 research study of 1,013 Canadian university students found a direct association between depression and backaches.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have long believed emotional issues can cause chronic aches and pains, but the specifics are still being researched, such as the connection between depression and the bodys inflammatory response.
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35. Start reading a new book. If the idea sounds painful and tiring, pick a magazine you like from the stand and read it cover to cover.
36. Go to the library, decide which book cover you like best and why. You dont have to borrow it.
37. If youre into cartoons, go ahead and re-watch your childhood faves.
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What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor to see if they can suggest changes,
- get an advocate to help you speak your doctor,
- ask for a second opinion if you feel it would help,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
An advocate is independent from the NHS. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like. They arent available in all areas.
You can ask an advocate to help you make a complaint. Advocates that do this are called NHS complaints advocates. They are free to use and don t work for the NHS. They re available in all areas.
You can search online to search for a local advocacy service. If you cant find a service you can call our advice service 0808 801 0525 . You can email us too at . We will look for you.
Talk to your doctor about your treatment to see if you can resolve the problem with them first. If you dont agree with their decisions about diagnosis or treatment, you could ask for a second opinion. You are not legally entitled to a second opinion, but your doctor might agree to it if it would help with treatment options.
- Advocacy by clicking here.
Pain Is Another Way Your Brain Communicates
If you feel discomfort identifying and talking about distressing emotions, like sadness, anger, and shame, this could cause feelings to manifest differently in the body.
If youre experiencing any of these physical symptoms for a prolonged period of time, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or nurse practitioner. If you dont already have a provider, our Healthline FindCare tool can help you connect to physicians in your area.
According to the American Psychological Association, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting 14.8 million American adults each year.
Depression can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetics, exposure to childhood stress or trauma, and brain chemistry. People with depression often need professional help, like psychotherapy and medication, to fully recover.
So at your appointment, if you suspect these physical symptoms might be more than surface level, request to be screened for depression and anxiety. This way your healthcare provider can connect you with the help you need.
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What Is Samhsa’s National Helpline
SAMHSAs National Helpline, , or TTY: is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
Also visit the online treatment locator.
Depression Causes Physical Changes To The Brain
Depression is known to cause changes to your emotions, but it can also cause physical changes to the brain.
This can result in a lack of oxygen, inflammation, and even shrinkage in the actual size of your brain.
Of course, changes to your brain affect your cognitive abilities.
This can lead to decreased memory, the ability to accomplish tasks, the ability to pay attention, and the executive skills which help you make decisions, plan, and problem solve.
According to research by the National Headache Foundation, up to 60% of people with depression also suffer from headaches.
This can be from depression-related stress and anxiety which trigger tension headaches.
People with depression are also more likely to experience frequent or severe headaches.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Depression
Common symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of irritability, frustration or restlessness
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies or activities
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and that do not ease even with treatment
- Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.