Feeling sad from time to time is a normal part of life, but being depressed is a very different thing. It can cause a variety of symptoms - both emotional and physical – that persist and affect a person’s day-to-day life. Depression is a common illness. About 6.7 percent of adults in the United States have depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Worldwide, an estimated 350 million people of various ages suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization.
People who have depression experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loneliness and/or a loss of interest in things they once enjoyed. All these feelings can interfere with the person’s ability to function properly and has a dramatic effect on their quality of life. To understand depression, you need to be aware of the physical signs, too. This can help in getting timely diagnosis and treatment.
# Weight Loss or Gain
Depression affects the hormones that regulate appetite and can make you want to eat more or less than you usually do. Also, sleep issues associated with depression can compound the problem, since sleep deprivation can mess with those same hunger and fullness hormones.
# Aches and Pains
Sometimes, muscle or joint pain can be due to depression. When you hold your feelings inside, they eventually come out physically in the form of body pain. Whether it’s a headache or back pain, suppressed emotions can manifest as physical pain.
# Stomach Issues
There is also a strong connection between digestive problems – bloating, constipation, irritable bowel and others – and depression. The gut is particularly responsive to your mood states. Also, the nerve cells in your gut manufacture 80 to 90 percent of your body’s serotonin, a mood-boosting neurotransmitter.
# Trouble Sleeping
Depression may cause a wide range of insomnia symptoms, including difficulty falling asleep (sleep onset insomnia), difficulty staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia) and daytime sleepiness. Depression often comes with a lack of energy and an overwhelming feeling of fatigue, which can be among the most debilitating symptoms of depression. Surprisingly, as tired as you may feel, depression can affect your sleep quality.
Much like chronic pain, headaches and migraines are also linked to depression. While depression can lead to headaches, it is also a common symptom in people with migraine headaches. Migraines can be the reason behind the development of mood disorders likes depression, or vice versa. The link is even stronger in people who experience migraines with aura, which means people see flashing lights or stars during a migraine attack.