Depression is a common and serious medical illness that affects nearly 16 million American adults and children. It is considered a mental disorder but can also negatively affect your physical health and mental well being. Some physical effects depression can have on the body include:
One of the most common residual symptoms of depression is fatigue. Research shows that symptoms of fatigue can affect physical, cognitive and emotional function, which can impair school and work performance, disturb social and family relationships, and increase healthcare utilization. A common sign of depression is insomnia or an inability to fall and stay asleep, which may contribute to fatigue symptoms.
When a person is depressed, they may develop digestive problems, such as diminished appetite, nausea, diarrhea and constipation. According to Harvard Health, the brain has a direct effect on the stomach and intestines, which is why a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the product of anxiety, stress or depression.
Weakened Immune System
Although research is ongoing, it is thought that depression may weaken the immune system, which increases susceptibility to illness. When you are stressed or depressed, the body’s production of lymphocytes (the white blood cells that help fight off infection) decreases, which puts you more at risk for viruses, such as the flu.
Chronic pain is defined as any persistent or intermittent pain that lasts more than 3 months. Those who have depression may experience unexplained aches or pains. Studies have found considerable overlaps between pain and depression-induced neuroplasticity changes and neurobiological mechanism changes.
Many factors play a role in the development of depression and fatigue, and both have been associated with increased inflammatory activation of the immune system. Studies have shown that depression is connected to chronic, low-grade inflammatory response and activation of cell-mediated immunity.
It is important to recognize the effects depression can have on your body in order to seek treatment to better help manage your symptoms. Our providers at Mile High Psychiatry want to help you become the best version of yourself. We do this through a combination of psychotherapy and cognitive tools. To learn more about our process or to request an appointment, contact us today.