Physical Symptoms of Depression

Sleep Problems

Photo of a depressed man suffering from insomnia.

Depression can affect your body as well as your mind. Trouble falling or staying asleep is common in people who are depressed. But some may find that they get too much shut-eye.

Chest Pain

Photo of a woman experiencing chest pain.

It can be a sign of heart, lung, or stomach problems, so see your doctor to rule out those causes. Sometimes, though, it's a symptom of depression.

Depression can also raise your risk of heart disease. Plus, people who've had heart attacks are more likely to be depressed.

Fatigue and Exhaustion

Photo of a depressed woman suffering from fatigue and exhaustion.

If you feel so tired that you don't have energy for everyday tasks -- even when you sleep or rest a lot -- it may be a sign that you're depressed. Depression and fatigue together tend to make both conditions seem worse.

Muscle Aches and Joint Pain

Photo of a woman with neck pain.

When you live with ongoing pain it can raise your risk of depression.

Depression may also lead to pain because the two conditions share chemical messengers in the brain. People who are depressed are three times as likely to get regular pain.

Digestive Problems

Photo of a depressed woman experiencing nausea.

Our brains and digestive systems are strongly connected, which is why many of us get stomachaches or nausea when we're stressed or worried.

Depression can get you in your gut too -- causing nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, or constipation.

Headaches

Photo of a depressed woman with a headache.

One study shows that people with major depression are three times more likely to have migraines, and people with migraines are five times more likely to get depressed.

Changes in Appetite or Weight

Photo of a depressed woman with a lack of appetite.

Some people feel less hungry when they get depressed. Others can't stop eating. The result can be weight gain or loss, along with lack of energy.

Depression has been linked to eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating.

Back Pain

Photo of a woman rubbing an aching back.

When it hurts you there on a regular basis, it may contribute to depression. And people who are depressed may be four times more likely to get intense, disabling neck or back pain.

Agitation and Restlessness

Photo of a man feeling restless and irritable.

Sleep problems or other depression symptoms can make you feel this way. Men are more likely than women to be irritable when they're depressed.

Sexual Problems

Photo of a couple sleeping back to back.

If you're depressed, you might lose your interest in sex. Some prescription drugs that treat depression can also take away your drive and affect performance. Talk to your doctor about your medicine options.

Exercise

Photo of a family hula hooping together.

Research suggests that if you do it regularly, it releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good, improve your mood, and reduce your sensitivity to pain.

Although physical activity alone won't cure depression, it can help ease it over the long term.

If you're depressed, it can sometimes be hard to get the energy to exercise. But try to remember that it can ease fatigue and help you sleep better.

Sources:

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REFERENCES:

  • National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health: "Depression," "Changes in Appetite."
  • National Sleep Foundation: "Depression and Sleep."
  • Eken, C. The Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2010.
  • Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine: "Heart disease and depression: Don't Ignore the relationship."
  • Skapinakis, P. Psychosomatic Medicine, May/June 2004.
  • PubMed Health: "Major Depression."
  • UC Berkeley University Health Services: "Clinical Depression."
  • Harvard Health Publications: "Depression and pain," "Depression and pain," "Exercise and Depression."
  • Trivedi, M. Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2004.
  • Anxiety Disorders Association of America: "Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)."
  • Lydiard, R. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2001.
  • Stanford School of Medicine: "Digestive problems early in life may increase risk for depression, study suggests"
  • National Headache Foundation: "Depression and Headache," "Depression Linked to Daily Head Pain."
  • University of California, Berkeley, Health Services: "Tension Headache Fact Sheet."
  • National Mental Health Association: "Eating Disorders and Depression."
  • Mental Health America: "Depression in Women."
  • Science Daily: "Depression Can Lead to Back Pain."
  • American Family Physician: "Depression and sexual desire."
  • Cleveland Clinic: "Sexual Problems and Depression."
  • American Psychological Association: "Exercise Helps Keep Your Psyche Fit."
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