Why Does Depression Physically Hurt?

Depression doesn’t just put a strain on your emotions and mind, it can also strain your body and cause you pain. Some of the common physical symptoms include bodily or somatic pain, sleep loss, joint pain, and stomach pain.

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When we think of depression, we normally associate it with a host of mental and emotional symptoms that include prolonged sadness, lack of interest in the surroundings and others, inability to feel joy, and trouble concentrating. But outside of these mood and mentality effects, depression can also cause a number of physical symptoms which can sometimes be the first things you notice - even before you recognize the psychological changes.

Bodily or Somatic Pain

Being depressed makes already present bodily pains feel more intense, or amplified.  People are more sensitive to psychological suffering but also physical injury. In addition, depression manifests itself for many people as bodily pain itself, in stomach aches, back pain, headaches, and other kinds of somatic pain. A very large percentage of visits to a primary care doctor where people report bodily pain is probably due to, or at the very least highly exacerbated by, depression.

Depression can alter your sleep pattern

For example, depression can affect your sleep - but towards either end of the spectrum! Some people experience insomnia, or the inability to fall asleep. This can make you feel fatigued throughout the day, and cause feelings of exhaustion or joint pain. Others experience hypersomnia, or an excessive amount of sleepiness and difficulty waking up. This can also lead to muscular and joint pain as your body is not meant to be inactive for such long periods of time.

Depression can change your diet

Depression can also affect your appetite, typically decreasing your interest in food by removing the pleasure from eating. If there is a decrease in your food intake, this could lead to stomach pain and gastrointestinal problems. You may also experience diarrhea or constipation as a result of these dietary changes. Also, if your sleep schedule is impaired, you may consume more caffeine than normal which can have unwanted effects on your digestion as well. Whenever there is a change in diet, your body has to adapt to the new caloric intake, and so some people with depression experience weight loss while others experience weight gain.

While there are a whole host of physical symptoms that can stem from depression, the good news is that treating the underlying depression can often help resolve everything at the source. 


Rule Out Depression

 Please take this survey to see if you’re having symptoms of depression:

If you score greater than a 10, you should contact a clinician, such as a doctor or therapist:

https://www.mdcalc.com/phq-9-patient-health-questionnaire-9

 

Please Reach Out If You Need Help 

If you’re looking for evaluation and treatment for depression, please feel free to be in touch anytime:

https://dignitybrainhealth.com/contact/


References

Goldberg, J. (2018) Retrieved from

https://www.webmd.com/depression/physical-symptoms

Trivedi, M. (2004) Retrieved from

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC486942/

Bener, A., Verjee, M., Dafeeah, E. E., Falah, O., Al-Juhaishi, T., Schlogl, J., ... & Khan, S. (2013). Psychological factors: anxiety, depression, and somatization symptoms in low back pain patients. Journal of pain research6, 95.

Omar Haque