What Are the Physical Signs of Depression?
I've been experiencing a lot of back pain lately, as well as problems with my digestion and fatigue. My best friend suggested that I might be depressed. Can depression cause physical symptoms? If so, what are the physical signs of depression?
When people think about depression, they often think about the emotional signs of the illness, such as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness. Many people may not realize that depression involves the entire body, not just the mind. In addition to the emotional signs, depression can cause physical symptoms, which are sometimes called "somatic symptoms."
Some of the physical signs of depression are basic signs used to help diagnose the condition -- for example, sleeping problems, changes in appetite or weight, and loss of energy. However, other physical symptoms are just as important in diagnosing and treating depression. These other, often unrecognized, physical symptoms may include:
- Physical pain, such as headache, lower back pain, and joint pain
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
Physical symptoms often make depression more severe, and may increase the risk for suicide. However, because many people don't link physical symptoms with depression, they may not talk about their depressed mood when seeing a healthcare provider about their physical ailments. As a result, depression may go untreated.
Alternately, people with depression may not report their physical symptoms to their healthcare provider. If left untreated, physical symptoms reduce the chances of recovering completely from the condition.